The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Bayer Animal Health modify or discontinue certain advertising claims made in print advertising and on its website for its flea, tick and mosquito control products K9 Advantix and Advantage for dogs and cats. The claims at issue were challenged by competitor Elanco Animal Health, maker of the dog flea control product Comfortis.
Elanco is a division of Eli Lilly and Co.
Bayer reported that although it disagreed with the findings, it would modify its website and revise future iterations of its print advertising in accordance with NAD’s recommendations. The company noted its commitment to the self-regulatory process.
The claims at issue included: Advantage and K9 Advantix “stop biting fleas in three to five minutes”; “Kills over 99 percent of flea larvae within 20 minutes”; and “Don’t give fleas a biting chance”; among others.
NAD recommended that Bayer discontinue, in consumer-directed advertising, the claim that Advantage “stops biting fleas within three to five minutes.” However, NAD concluded that a modified claim, accompanied by supporting evidence, could be used in advertising directed at veterinarians.
Bayer indicated it would modify the claim in trade advertising to state: “Once Advantage has been applied and given time to spread throughout your pet’s skin, it will stop reinfesting fleas from biting and feeding upon your pet within just three to five minutes.”
The company has decided to voluntarily discontinue the claim that Advantage “kills over 99 percent of flea larvae within 20 minutes,” according to NAD.
In regard to Bayer’s slogan, “Don’t give fleas a biting chance,” NAD determined it as puffery. This means NAD found the statement to be subjective rather than objective, in which the company would have needed to prove the claim.
NAD further explained that “A reasonable consumer would recognize that the advertiser’s slogan is modeled after the well-known expression ‘a fighting chance.’ NAD was not persuaded by the challenger’s argument that the reasonable consumer would interpret this slogan to mean that fleas will not have time to bite a dog treated with Advantage or K9 Advantix.”
NAD also did not agree with Elanco’s argument that the failure to disclose the need to use a nondetergent shampoo constituted a material omission in Bayer’s study. NAD determined that the use of nondetergent based shampoo is consistent with proper pet care.
However, NAD recommended that the claim inform consumers that, for best results, pets treated with Advantage or K9 Advantix should be bathed with a nondetergent shampoo. This disclosure would not be necessary in materials directed solely to veterinarians, according to NAD, since they are aware of the impact of detergent-based shampoos on various pest treatments for household pets.