In April, the Federal Trade Commission responded to three referrals from the National Advertising Division, one referral from the National Advertising Review Board, and issued one closing letter over "made in USA" claims.
In February 2020, the NAD referred a competitor challenge to the FTC, after the advertiser, ConsumerTrack, refused to participate in the NAD process. A competitor had challenged ConsumerTrack's advertising for its GoFreeCredit.com product, arguing that advertising for a "Free Credit Score" and a "$1 Credit Report" failed to properly disclose that a subscription was required. On April 2nd, the FTC responded to the NAD's referral, saying that it decided not to take any action based on a number of factors, including "resource allocation and enforcement priorities, the nature of any FTC Act violation, and the type and severity of any consumer injury." (We previously blogged about this decision.)
In August 2019, the NAD referred a competitor challenge to the FTC, after the advertiser, 3B Medical, refused to comply with the NAD's decision. A competitor had challenged 3B Medical's advertising for its CPAP cleaning device product, arguing that 3B was making false claims about the safety and effectiveness of the competitor's product. On April 7th, the FTC responded to the NAD's referral, saying that after reviewing the record and consulting with the FDA, it decided not to take action. Noting that the FDA is already working with manufacturers about safety issues related to CPAP cleaning devices, the FTC said that it declined to take action in "deference to FDA’s expertise about the safety of CPAP cleaners, as well as that agency’s current and anticipated regulatory actions."
In November 2019, the NAD referred a competitor challenge to the FTC, after the advertiser, Guardian Technologies, refused to comply with the NAD's decision. A competitor had challenged Guardian's advertising for its air purifiers, arguing that Guardian was making false claims about its products' air filtration capabilities. On April 20th, the FTC responded to the NAD's referral, saying that, after reviewing the record, receiving additional information from Guardian, and meeting with Guardian, it decided not to take action due to "a number of factors related to resource allocation and enforcement priorities, as well as the nature of any FTC Act violation and the type and severity of any consumer injury."
In January 2020, the NARB referred a NAD monitoring case to the FTC after the advertiser, Neurocore, appealed the NAD's decision and then failed to comply with the NARB's own decision. NAD had challenged claims that the advertiser was making about its Neurocure Brain Performance Center. On appeal, NARB recommended various modifcations to Neurocore's advertising, including that the company discontinue advertising claims and testimonials stating or implying that clients who underwent treatments had reduced or eliminated their need for medication. Although Neurocore indicated that it would comply with the NARB's decision, after the NARB conducted a compliance inquiry at the request of NAD, the NARB determined that Neurocore was not, in fact, in compliance. On April 22nd, the FTC responded to the NARB's referral, saying that, after reviewing the record and discussing the challenged advertising claims with Neurocore, and based on the fact that the company subsequently significantly clarified its efficacy claims premised on client outcome data and added clear and conspicuous disclosure language for those claims and client testimonials, it decided not to take further action.
Finally, the FTC closed an investigation into whether "broad, unqualified" advertising claims that sonnen products are made in the United States may have failed to account for the fact that the company's battery products contain significant foreign content. As it typically does in these situations, the FTC reminded the advertiser that unqualified "made in USA" claims must comply with the FTC's "all or virtually all" standard.