Last week, Mars Petcare U.S., Inc. (“Mars”) settled its case with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) over certain advertising claims. In 2015, the FTC initiated an investigation of Mars’ advertising claims for its Eukanuba dog food. Its advertising claimed that dogs that ate Eukanuba lived 30% longer than their typical lifespan and that Eukanuba brand dog foods enable dogs to live exceptionally long lives. Below is an example of a Mars advertisement:
In its settlement, Mars agreed that it would discontinue these claims, and deliver copies of the FTC’s order to all employees. Next year, Mars must submit a compliance report to the FTC, and must keep certain records for five years. The order is valid for 20 years.
TAKEAWAY: Efficacy and establishment claims require a high level of substantiation, especially when the claims relate to the lifespan of our pets. When making these claims, advertisers should ensure they are based upon competent and reliable scientific evidence. That evidence—when considered in light of the entire body of relevant and reliable scientific evidence—should be sufficient in quality and quantity based on standards generally accepted in the relevant scientific fields to substantiate that the claims are true.