NAD Finds Abbot Nutrition Can Support Challenged claims for ‘Similac Advance with OptiGRO’

New York, NY –  July  17,  2015  – The National Advertising Division has determined Abbot Nutrition can support advertising claims made for the company’s Similac Advance with OptiGRO and challenged by Mead Johnson & Co., LLC.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Mead Johnson, the maker of Enfamil infant formula products, challenged claims that appeared in Internet, print and direct-mail advertising and in promotional materials and elsewhere. Claims at issue included:

  • “The Similac Advance difference” and “See what sets Similac apart.”
  • “Similac with OptiGRO – our unique blend of DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E…With the benefits of OptiGRO working for your baby, you’ll see why choosing Similac – and staying with it – has never been more important…Not all formulas are the same.”
  • “Closer than ever to breast milk.*”
    • (*Reformulated to better match the average caloric density of breast milk)
  • “#1 Infant Formula Brand

NAD also considered whether the claims implied that only Similac Advance with OptiGRO’s infant formulas contain certain nutrients or provide certain benefits and is superior to Mead Johnson’s Enfamil line of formulas.

NAD noted that it is undisputed that when it comes to infant feeding, breast milk remains the gold standard.  Advertisements that compare infant formula to breast milk and/or make claims that a formula will benefit some aspect of an infant’s health or development must be clear, accurate and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

In this case, NAD noted, the challenged claims “closer than ever to breast milk” and “closer to breast milk than ever before,” did not appear in a context that compared Similac to a competing product and NAD concluded that the claims were a comparative reference to the previous Similac formula. Further, the accompanying disclosure: “Reformulated to better match the average caloric density of breast milk,” adequately informed consumers that the product was a reformulation of Similac Advance, with no mention of competing formulas.   As a result, NAD determined that the claims did not send a message of implied superior performance.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its reformulation-related “closer than ever to breast milk” claim and concluded that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its “Unique Blend”/exclusivity claims

NAD further determined that the advertiser could support “#1 Infant Formula Brand” claims.

Abbott Nutrition, in its advertiser’s statement, thanked NAD for “its careful and diligent work on this matter.”