Federal Trade Commissioners and FTC staff have supported the program as an “excellent example of self-regulation” that has helped to serve customers for 15 years. The ad-monitoring and peer-to-peer process conducted by NAD encouraged cooperation, and enabled companies to change non-compliant behavior before facing potentially serious consequences from the FTC and other law enforcement agencies.
Over a decade ago, CRN approached the National Advertising Division with a plan to create a program that monitors dietary supplement advertising, and issuing guidance to ensure that all advertisers, and companies, have a level playing field through rules by which to promote products.
The program provided advertisers with a written decision explaining the review of each monitoring case or challenge, and provided instruction and guidance for future advertising if changes were needed. CRN reports that the program has resulted in over 300 decisions involving a range of dietary supplement claims including more conventional benefits such as weight loss, sports performance, heart disease, cold and flu prevention, to less common claims including benefits to breast feeding, sun protection, sexual dysfunction, tinnitus, computer eye strain, and those seeking the courage to speak publicly.
Additionally, the program created an extensive library of claim substantiation guidance, bringing value beyond the case count and volume of issues it has considered historically. The guidance is harmonized with that provided by federal regulations as well.
Since the program began, company-to-company competitor challenges have also dramatically risen, giving rise to watchdog activity within the industry, CRN reports.
“Though the CRN/NAD program has come to its end, our partnership with NAD continues,” Megan Olsen, CRN vice president and associate general counsel said. “The responsible dietary supplement industry recognizes the role truthful and accurate advertising plays in leveling the playing field for honest advertisers and in providing consumers with accurate information about products they rely on to improve their health and wellness.”
“We appreciate CRN’s leadership in supporting truthful and transparent advertising for the dietary supplement industry,” Laura Brett, Vice President of NAD, said. “Our partnership highlights the value that independent and voluntary advertising self-regulation can bring in promoting fair competition in industries that are evolving and rapidly changing.”
CRN encourages the responsible industry to stay vigilant of suspect advertising and consider filing challenges against companies making egregious claims in the dietary supplement marketplace. CNR reports that filing a challenge with NAD is a lower cost option than litigation, and typically moves much faster than a court decision.
NAD has also developed the Fast-Track SWIFT (Single Well-Defined Issue Fast Track) program to provide companies with an even faster method to address particular advertising challenges. Examples of challenges that may be eligible for the SWIFT program include those in which the material connection between an influencer and advertiser is not disclosed, those with content that looks editorial but is really an advertisement, misleading sales and pricing claims, and simple express claims.
“CRN and NAD’s dietary supplement advertising review program has played a key role in self-regulatory efforts and has contributed to creating a marketplace that consumers and industry can trust,” Olsen said. “Responsible industry’s participation has been critical to the program’s success in the past and we urge companies to remain supportive of NAD’s continued role and file challenges against companies making unsubstantiated or deceptive advertising claims. CRN, NAD, and its members recognize the impressive achievements of the program over the past 15 years and its role in supporting the dietary supplement industry and consumers.”