NAD Recommends Philosophy Discontinue Challenged Claims for ‘Time in a Bottle,’ Company to Appeal

New York, NY – Oct.  9, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Philosophy, Inc. discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s “Time in a Bottle Age-Defying Serum.” The advertiser has said it will appeal NAD’s determination to the National Advertising Review Board.

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

The advertiser’s primary support in this case was an independent, blinded clinical study of the product.  The purpose of the six-month study was to determine “changes to facial skin appearance and hydration as a function of time and product use.”

The key issue before NAD was whether the advertiser’s study evidence was a good fit for advertising claims that included:

  • “Women told us their skin looked 730 days younger*, that’s 2 years on your side with our age-defying serum.” *In an 8 week study of 56 women, 60% indicated their skin looked at least 2 years younger after 60 days.”
  • “Transform your skin inside and out at any age*
  • “Defy the appearance of all major signs of aging, and help your skin appear:
    • Radiant
    • Poreless
    • Even
    • Wrinkle-free
    • Smooth Firm
  • “Inside: aging not yet visible on the surface*” (along with the before and after photographs)
  • “Out: visible aging on the surface*” (along with the before and after photographs)
  • “82% showed improvement in signs of aging not yet visible on the surface after 4 weeks.”
  • “95% showed significant reduction in visible signs of aging after 8 weeks.”
  • *clinical study, 120 women ages 25-55, once daily use.  Measurement of aging not yet visible on the surface using cross-polarized light to reveal sub-surface signs of aging in the epidermal layer.

NAD noted in its decision that it questioned the reliability of the study for several reasons.

First, NAD said, the advertiser did not adequately account for environmental factors. The study began in the winter, when the air is generally at its driest, and ran through the summer, when humidity is at its most excessive.  It is important to ensure that study results of are attributable to the product’s efficacy and not to environmental factors, NAD said.

NAD noted that skin-imaging analysis was conducted on only a small subset of the study’s participants (26 out of 117 subjects) and questioned the relevance of the results to support the challenged claims and visuals.

Further, NAD criticized the study’s failure to use trained experts to conduct visual grading of the skin.  While the use of self-assessments based on a visual analog scale is appropriate in a number of clinical settings, NAD’s prior cases reviewing anti-aging claims involved visual grading of anti-aging parameters by clinicians.  NAD noted, as well,  that the actual improvements in the identified anti-aging parameters were far more modest than the claims suggest.

Finally, NAD questioned the reliability of the self-assessment questionnaire, which formed the basis for the claim “Women told us their skin looked 730 days younger*, that’s 2 years on your side with our age-defying serum,” in particular its length and the arbitrary responses elicited by the question upon which the claim was based (“Skin appears __ years younger”).

Based on the lack of supporting evidence in the record, NAD recommended that all of the challenged claims and accompanying visuals be discontinued.

Philosophy, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company supports the self-regulatory process and appreciates the NAD’s review of its advertising.

However, the company said, it “is disappointed that the NAD did not accept the comprehensive support that it provided substantiating its advertising claims.  Philosophy’s six-month, independent clinical study is one of the most significant and extensive studies conducted in the cosmetics industry to evaluate product performance across a broad audience of women at different times.  The NAD’s criticisms of Philosophy’s study are contrary to the record and established precedent.  Left uncorrected, the NAD’s decision would result in confusing guidance for the cosmetics industry and disincentivize manufacturers from conducting similar comprehensive studies.”

Specifically, the company said, it will appeal NAD’s determination that it could not substantiate the following claims: “(i) Women told us their skin looked 730 days younger, that’s 2 years on your side with our age-defying serum”; (ii) “Transform your skin inside and out at any age”; (iii) “Defy the appearance of all major signs of aging, and help your skin appear (Radiant; Poreless; Even; Wrinkle-free; Smooth; Firm); (iv) “Inside: aging not yet visible on the surface” (along with accompanying visuals); (v) “Out: visible aging on the surface” (along with accompanying visuals); (vi) “82% showed improvement in signs of aging not yet visible on the surface after 4 weeks; and (vii) 95% showed significant reduction in visible signs of aging after 8 weeks.” With respect to the testimonial claim that “Lines have disappeared and … I go makeup free,” the company stated that it is no longer using the claim “but will take the NAD’s recommendations into account in its future advertising.”