Green Tea Claim is Steeped with Errors

The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) has requested that discontinue many of its advertising claims on its Green Tea 300 product because the claims are misleading.

In one instance, an ad states that Green Tea 300 is “30 Times more potent than regular green tea.” The ad goes on to ask clients to “Join Oprah” in losing 10 pounds. In addition, the ad shows a doctor extolling weight loss virtues of Green Tea and quotes him as saying, “[Lose] 10 pounds in six weeks. I will guarantee it.”

In its defense, stated it based its potency claim on the fact that Green Tea 300 has 30 times more polyphenol than green tea steeped in a testing laboratory (the company did not pay for the study; it merely read the findings). The polyphenol count is the only measure by which makes its claim. The company claims the “Join Oprah” and doctor guarantee portion of the advertising was specifically related to an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show in which a doctor guaranteed a weight loss of 10 pounds for a diet regimen that included consumption of Green Tea (although not the Green Tea 300 product).

NAD correctly found that advertisers may not make claims using consumer testimonials or expert endorsements that cannot be substantiated by the advertiser. Moreover, advertisers must have appropriate scientific evidence to support scientific claims. The use of Oprah’s name and a quote by a doctor each suggested an endorsement of the company’s product that was not accurate. Ultimately, pulled the questionable advertising.

Practice Pointer: While it was improper for to suggest an endorsement of its product by either a doctor or a celebrity that it didn’t have, it would have been acceptable to have mentioned the television show. For instance, the advertiser could have stated “A recent episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show highlighted the virtues of green tea.” Depending on the size and placement of such a statement, such use would likely not suggest an affiliation between the advertiser and the celebrity.



Permanent link to this article: