NAD Decision Addresses Expert Recommendations

Does Hyaluronic Acid Help to Fight Signs of Aging? At Ad Law Access, we are known just as much for the naturally youthful appearance of our writers as we are known for the quality of our content, so we don’t have any personal experience in this area. But this very question prompted a new NAD decision that involves a number of areas where we do have relevant experience.

Naked & Thriving, a family-owned skincare business, also runs The Bare Beauty Babes blog. One post on that blog started, much like this one does, with the question of whether hyaluronic acid can fight signs of aging. Unlike this post, though, that one included an answer to the question. In that post, a dermatologist claimed that she had tested hundreds of hyaluronic acid serums” and found 5 that actually work.” A Naked & Thriving product came in first.

NAD wrote that endorsements from experts must be supported by an actual exercise of the expertise that the expert is represented as possessing” in evaluating features which are relevant to an ordinary consumer’s use of a product. NAD requested information about the dermatologist’s expertise and the methodology she used to evaluate the hundreds” of serums. Apparently, the advertiser didn’t provide it because NAD noted that there was no evidence in the record” on either point.

The same claims that appeared on the blog also appeared in social media posts which were labelled as sponsored.” Echoing concerns similar to ones FTC staff expressed in warning letters last year, NAD noted that a sponsored” disclosure might be insufficient if the viewer does not know who is the sponsor of the post. That is particularly true where, as here, a health professional is posting and endorsing a product.” The posts should have been more clear that Naked & Thriving was the sponsor.

On a related note, at the start of NAD’s inquiry, the bottom of each page of The Bare Beauty Babes blog included a disclosure in very small print” stating: The content on this site is sponsored and The Bare Beauty Babes may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships.” During the course of the inquiry, Naked & Thriving added a more prominent disclosure to the top of each page stating that it owned the blog. It also stopped recommending products.

If you asked us about how to fight signs of aging, we might give you some tips, but we’d probably direct you to consult a reputable health care professional. If you asked a reputable health care professional how to advertise an expert endorsement, they’d probably just direct you to consult us. In that case, we’d be happy to talk to you at length. For now, though, we’ll highlight two lessons you should take away from this decision.

  • First, this decision demonstrates why it’s important to document the expertise your experts have and the methodology behind their recommendations. Simply saying that an expert is a doctor, for example, may not be enough.
  • Second, this is the latest in growing line of cases in which NAD, FTC, and even competitors are challenging how endorsers (or influencers) disclose that they are working with the companies whose products they promote. Take a look at how your disclosure practices match up with these recent cases.

Keep visiting our blog for the latest in advertising and privacy tips (with occasional beauty tips thrown in for free).