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    Watchdog Group Recommends GFA Brands Modify Smart Balance Claims

    NEW YORK -- The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus here has recommended that Cresskill, N.J.-based GFA Brands, Inc., which manufactures Smart Balance Buttery Spread, modify or discontinue certain product claims.

    NEW YORK -- The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus here has recommended that Cresskill, N.J.-based GFA Brands, Inc., which manufactures Smart Balance Buttery Spread, modify or discontinue certain product claims.

    NAD, a self-regulatory forum for the advertising industry, reviewed Smart Balance's TV, print, and Internet advertising in response to a challenge from St. Paul, Minn.-based Land O' Lakes, which makes competing dairy-based products, among other items.
    At issue were statements that Smart Balance "cooks like butter, spreads like butter, and tastes like butter" and "tastes most like butter -- even better!" and that consumers were "going to love that buttery taste," among other claims.

    After reviewing the evidence, NAD found that Smart Balance had provided a reasonable basis for advertising claims regarding various attributes about Smart Balance, including that its taste is both "buttery" and "award-winning."

    However, NAD concluded the evidence was insufficient to support the TV ads' claim that the product "cooks like butter, spreads like butter, and tastes like butter" because, in the context of the applicable commercials, the claim implied that the product is indistinguishable from butter. The group therefore recommended that these claims in the challenged television advertising be discontinued.

    Noted in the decision was the fact that Smart Balance had discontinued the claim "tastes most like butter -- even better!" before the challenge was brought.

    GFA Brands responded that it "respectfully disagrees…with NAD's conclusion that the claim in the applicable television commercials that Smart Balance Buttery Spread 'tastes like butter' conveys the message that its taste is 'equal to or indistinguishable' from butter."

    Nevertheless, the manufacturer said it would comply with the decision on the applicable television commercials.

    The Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA); the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc. (AAAA); the American Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF); and the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB) formed the National Advertising Review Council (NARC) in 1971, with the purpose of fostering truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation.

    NAD and Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. This system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children's advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB's sole source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB.

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