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NAD Cleans Up ‘Doctor Recommended’ Claim For Baby Wipes – Advertising, Marketing & Branding

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It is too early to tell if we have a baby wipes war developing
to compete with the diapers wars, but we certainly have had lots of
activity this year involving the disposable cleanup cloths. An earlier action focused on the adequacy of the
substantiation of a claim that WaterWipes were the “#1 wipe
against the causes of diaper rash.” Do not fear, gentle
reader, we will not be delving into the science behind diaper rash
today (although for the curious, the earlier decision and the more recent decision both have detailed
discussions of the BaSICs, or Baby Skin Integrity Comparison
Survey, including its adequacy as competent and reliable scientific
evidence and its fit to the claims made).

As an aside, you might be curious why WaterWipes was facing two
challenges involving the same study so close in time. This happens
rarely, but Kimberly-Clark initiated the first challenge, and
Procter & Gamble initiated the second. Because of the strict confidentiality rules at the National Advertising
Division (NAD
) during the pendency of a challenge, occasionally
there can be overlapping challenges against one company by two
different competitors, and typically the challenges have at least
some different issues raised, so the NAD considers both.

Today, we are focusing on our old friend “Trusted Medical
Provider Recommended” claims. These take many forms, all with
similar substantiation requirements, including Doctor Recommended,
X Specialist Recommended, Pharmacist Recommended, etc. Today, we
review a “Healthcare Providers Recommend” claim.

As the NAD has noted, these sorts of claims are very powerful to
consumers. In the instance of first-time parents, they are a sleep-deprived, stressed-out, vulnerable
audience seeking any and all quality advice about stuff
for a baby. The general requirements for supporting such claims

– Survey the appropriate practitioners –
chiropractors can’t opine on menopausal products.

– Make sure you ask first if the practitioner recommends
the product category in the ordinary course of their practice,
instead of starting with a potentially biased question like
“Which of these products do you recommend?”

– It matters whether you survey about ingredients or
specific brands, as how the questions are phrased will impact the
possible claims.

– Of course, make sure your survey is sufficiently powered
with statistically significant results.

Here, WaterWipes surveyed 409 professionals attending a
women’s health, obstetric and neonatal nurses conference. The
NAD found that while these were some of the healthcare
practitioners who may talk about baby wipes with patients, lots of
other professionals were missed, including baby doctors, nurse
practitioners, etc. Therefore, the NAD recommended that the broader
“95% of healthcare practitioners recommend” claim be
discontinued. All is not lost, as there may be a more limited claim
that can be salvaged. Of course, if the original claim was made on
packaging, pivoting can still be a painful endeavor.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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