NARB Recommends Goya Discontinue Claim that Excelsior Pasta is “La pasta favorita de Puerto Rico,” Following Challenge by Maker of Ronzoni Pasta

New York, NY – Oct. 23, 2019 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has found that Goya Foods, Inc.’s claim that its Excelsior brand pasta is “La pasta favorita de Puerto Rico” (translated as “The Favorite Pasta of Puerto Rico” or “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta”) (the “Favorite Claim” or “Claim) is an unsupported objective preference claim and should be withdrawn.

The advertising at issue had been challenged by Riviana Foods Inc., the maker of Ronzoni brand pasta, before the National Advertising Division (NAD).  The NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB NP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.  In its decision, NAD considered whether Goya’s Favorite Claim as it appeared in Spanish-language advertising, including on product packaging, television commercials, and in internet advertising, is merely puffery or an objective preference claim that requires substantiation. NAD concluded that the Claim was not puffery, but rather that it delivered a preference message which could be assessed by a survey or by market share data.  Given the absence of substantiation to support this message, NAD recommended that the Claim be discontinued. Following NAD’s decision, Goya appealed this recommendation to NARB, the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation.

The NARB panel agreed with NAD’s determination that the Favorite Claim is not puffery, but rather an objective preference claim that requires substantiation. With respect to dictionary definitions, the panel concluded that the Spanish definition offered by the advertiser is consistent with the English definitions cited by the challenger – they all show that “favorite” conveys a message of preference.  The panel did not accept Goya’s argument that the word “favorite” is too ambiguous to be the subject of a survey and noted that while different consumers may have different reasons for viewing a pasta as their favorite, they can certainly understand what they are being asked if they are surveyed on that issue.  Thus, the panel agreed with NAD that the Favorite Claim should be withdrawn.

Goya stated that while it “is disappointed with the NAD/NARB’s findings, it will comply with the NAD/NARB’s recommendation to discontinue the use of ‘La pasta favorita de Puerto Rico’ in connection with Goya’s EXCELSIOR-brand pasta.” Note: A recommendation by NAD or NARB to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.