NAD Recommends Vogue Change Packaging to Eliminate ‘Formulas’ for ‘Proganix’ Products

New York, NY – July 21, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Vogue International, Inc., modify packaging for certain shampoos and conditioners in its “Proganix” product line to avoid conveying the message that specific exotic ingredients are responsible for specific product benefits.

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 made by Vogue on product packaging, in-store displays, print ads, commercial websites, social media websites, and elsewhere were challenged by the Procter & Gamble Co., a maker of competing hair care products.

Proganix products – including shampoos, conditioners, and treatments – feature packaging that mimics mathematical equations, including plus and equal signs, Greek letters and pi and square root symbols.

The challenger argued that the form implied that “Ingredient A + Ingredient B = Benefit C + Benefit D.” The advertiser contended that while the advertising called out certain exotic or natural ingredients that may be of interest to consumers, the fanciful formulas would not be reasonably understood by consumers to represent a literal, comprehensive formula for how the product works.

NAD noted in its decision that neither party submitted consumer perception evidence and NAD stepped into the shoes of the consumer to determine the messages reasonably conveyed.

Throughout its advertising, NAD noted, Vogue named certain natural and exotic ingredients in each hair care product and used an equation with the exotic ingredients added together to equal the claimed benefit. The equation, if taken literally, states that the product ingredients added together “equal” the benefits specified at the end of the equation. NAD determined that one message conveyed was that the natural or exotic ingredients specified on the product label produced the claimed performance benefit.

NAD further noted that while each equation included fanciful symbols, the symbols all have real meaning in math and science. Their use did not, NAD found, make the equation fanciful; rather, it underscored the message that a scientific formula for each product, attributable to the specific, named ingredients, delivered the claimed benefit.
Given the absence of evidence in the record to support specific ingredients to specific benefits, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its use of a formula with specific natural ingredients which add up to a claimed benefit, and otherwise modify its advertising and product packaging to avoid conveying the message that specific exotic ingredients are responsible for the product benefits.

Following its review of the claims “Science + Nature = Performance” or “Science + Nature = Salon Performance,” NAD determined that the claims were puffery, and not objectively provable claims requiring support.

However, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim, “High performance extracts up to 200x more potent than their raw natural state.” Nothing in this decision precludes the advertiser from claiming that the Aloe Vera in its product is 200x more concentrated than its raw natural state.

Vogue, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while the company “does not agree that its advertising or packaging communicated a message in which the inclusion specific exotic ingredients add up to a claimed benefit, it has already undergone modifications to make clear that any particular benefit is attributed to the product as a whole and not to any particular exotic ingredient. Vogue appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”