Enfamil Lipil infant formula outperforms Similac Advance when it comes to a child’s mental and visual impairment, according to Enfamil’s advertising claims.
However, the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau doesn’t agree. The advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum has taken issue with these claims which have appeared in print ads, point-of-sale materials as well as on Enfamil Lipil packaging.
Enfamil has also distributed coupons that show a chart inviting consumers to compare the differences between Enfamil Lipil and Abbott Nutrition’s Similac Advance.
The NAD asked Enfamil-owner Mead Johnson Nutritionals to discontinue the comparative ads or remove Similac’s name. The organization has said aspects of the ad claims need to be further clarified and some refer to a discontinued, or prior version, of the product.
After its third compliance review, the NAD has referred the ads to the Federal Trade Commission. The NAD opened three compliance reviews of Enfamil’s ads (in June 2008, November 2008 and February 2009), before contacting the FTC.
"Mead Johnson stands behind all of its advertising," said company rep Gail Wood. "NAD concluded that a few of Mead Johnson’s claims might be misunderstood or may have exceeded the scope of the scientific support then available. Mead Johnson disagreed with those conclusions but respects the self-regulatory process and agreed to modify those claims."
The NAD said in a statement: “The self-regulatory process cannot function properly when advertisers state, on one hand, that they respect the process and will comply with NAD’s decision, and then do the opposite."
Mead Johnson's revenues were $2.9 billion in 2008, per financial statements. It spent $2.2 million in measured media, excluding online, in 2008, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.