NAD Recommends Genomma Lab Discontinue Challenged Claims in Spanish-Language Ad for Antibiotic Ointment

New York, NY – Feb. 25, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Genomma Lab USA, Inc., discontinue challenged claims made in Spanish-language broadcast advertising for La Pomada de la Compana triple antibiotic ointment.The claims at issue were challenged by Vitacilina Corporation of America, a competing maker of antibiotic ointment.

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

Claims at issue included:

  • “To avoid infections on scrapes, cuts and burns, nothing works better than the triple antibiotic of ‘La Campana’ ointment.”
  • “In addition, its analgesics alleviate pain without staining the skin” [in conjunction with side-by-side “after” images.] 

NAD also considered whether the advertising implied that La Pomada de la Campana antibiotic ointment is superior to other antibiotic ointments on the market, whetheruse of the product would result in complete healing without scarring or whether other products stain the skin.

The challenger in this case manufactures Vitacilina, an over-the-counter antibiotic cream used to treat minor scrapes and abrasions. The product is most widely sold in Mexico and Guatemala, but is also sold throughout the United States.  In the challenged advertisement, two antibiotic creams that closely resemble the packaging of Vitacilina and Neosporin are swept off screen with an audible crashing sound, and replaced by a package of La Campana. A voiceover states, “To avoid infections on scrapes, cuts and burns, nothing works better than the triple antibiotic of “La Campana” ointment.”

Next, a side-by-side image of two knees appeared, depicting the results after using different products. The knee on the left, labeled “Others,” displayed visible scarring, a shiny residue, and discoloration. The knee on the right, labeled with the “La Campana” logo, appeared unblemished. The voiceover stated, “In addition, its analgesics alleviate pain without staining the skin.” The advertisement finishes with an image of the “La Campana” packaging while the voiceover stated, “Get healthy, get healthy [or ‘heal’] with ‘La Campana’ ointment. If you don’t feel that this is best to prevent infections and alleviate pain, we will give you your money back.”

As a preliminary matter, NAD noted that the commercial containing the challenged advertising claims was permanently discontinued prior to the onset of this inquiry. However, the advertiser had not permanently discontinued the claims. Accordingly, NAD retained jurisdiction over the claims.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the claim, “nothing works better than the triple antibiotic of La Campana ointment” – viewed in context with the visuals – conveyed an unsupported comparative superiority message.

NAD determined that the side-by-side “after” images conveyed an unsupported comparative superiority message about the relative healing capabilities of the products and the unsupported message that the challenger’s product “stains” skin. For these reasons, NAD determined that the advertiser’s permanent discontinuance of the challenged commercial, as well as the challenged claims and visuals, was necessary and appropriate.

In its advertiser’s statement, Genomma Lab said that it accepts the NAD decision and has “discontinued the specific Pomada Antibiotic Ointment television advertisement that led to this challenge.  Genomma Lab will ensure claims in future TV advertisements and other media forms will comply with the decision.”