NAD Recommends Zarbee’s Inc. Qualify Use of the Term “Natural” in its Brand-Name for Some of its Dietary Supplement Products, and Modify Additional Claims
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New York, NY – January 7, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Zarbee’s Inc. qualify its use of the term “natural” in the Zarbee’s Naturals brand name when some or all the essential or key ingredients used in its products are not naturally derived. NAD also recommended that Zarbee’s modify other challenged claims for its Zarbee’s Naturals line of health-related remedies and supplements to clarify which ingredients are natural and which are not.
The claims at issue, which appeared on product packages and in online advertising, were challenged by The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G).
During the proceeding, Zarbee’s permanently discontinued all consumer testimonials that describe the products as “natural,” including the challenged testimonials “I absolutely love that it is natural. I love reading the ingredients” and “It’s natural and tastes like honey.” Therefore, NAD did not review these claims on the merits.
NAD determined that where the key ingredient(s) (i.e., the ingredients providing the product’s benefit) were not derived from natural processes, the product name, “Zarbee’s Naturals” reasonably conveys a misleading message.
This finding was based on NAD’s conclusion that consumers would reasonably expect, in a product claimed to be “natural,” that the active ingredients are natural unless the natural claim is qualified and alerts consumers that essential ingredients in their product are not natural. It was not disputed that while the vitamins and melatonin in Zarbee’s Naturals products are chemically indistinguishable from their natural counterparts, these ingredients are not naturally derived. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser qualify the claim “Zarbee’s Naturals” in a manner that (1) alerts consumers when some or all of the essential or key ingredients used in its products are not naturally derived, with sufficient specificity to allow consumers to understand which ingredients in individual products are not naturally derived, and (2) otherwise discloses the meaning of the word “natural” with respect to its products.
NAD also recommended that Zarbee’s modify the claim “Dr. Zak Zarbock, a pediatrician and father, couldn’t find effective chemical-free products to keep the whole family healthy, so he created his own products including handpicked natural ingredients, whenever possible. The result is Zarbee’s Naturals,” to avoid the misleading message that natural ingredients were used whenever possible across the entire product line. NAD noted that with the exception of melatonin, for which the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for using a synthetic version instead of a naturally derived version, the advertiser did not provide NAD with any evidence that it only used synthetic ingredients in its products when it was not possible to use natural ingredients.
NAD determined that, due to the phrasing of the claim “Our Immune Support Drink Mixes are specially formulated proprietary blends sweetened with honey and other natural ingredients that help you close the nutritional gaps in your diet—without unwanted additives,” one potential message conveyed was that the natural sweetening ingredients in the products “help . . . close the nutritional gaps in your diet,” an unsupported message. Additionally, the phrase “without unwanted additives” is not qualified in the advertising, which raised a concern that the claim conveys an overly broad and unsupported message regarding the nature of the ingredients in the products. Therefore, NAD recommended that Zarbee’s modify the claim by adding commas after the words “blend” and “ingredients,” and disclose the type of additives that were not used in the products.
NAD considered the messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged elements of Zarbee’s Naturals online advertising, such as the natural imagery featured on the product website, its repeated references to the ingredients in Zarbee’s Naturals products as “handpicked” and “wholesome,” its description of its ingredients as those consumers will “feel good about,” as well as the claims, “Powerful natural ingredients—like dark honey, elderberry, and agave—form the backbone of our products” and “Powered by Nature.” NAD found that for some products, specifically those containing key ingredients that are not natural, the advertising conveys an unqualified and unsupported natural claim because it failed to make clear which ingredients were natural and which were not. Therefore, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its online advertising to make clear that not all key ingredients in its products are natural and to tie its natural claims directly to the ingredients that are natural.
In its advertiser’s statement, Zarbee’s Inc. stated that it “disagrees but will comply with NAD’s ruling.” Zarbee’s further stated, “we do not believe our use of ‘Naturals’ is confusing to consumers. Rather, it helps to distinguish our products from those that contain man-made chemical sleep aids, cough suppressants, etc. Nevertheless, we support the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in our future advertising.”
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About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.