Ad Claims 101: What Every Marketer Needs to Know

“World’s best cup of coffee….”

“Rated best toothbrush by dentists….”

Most advertisements make some sort of claim. Whether to highlight a selling-point of a product or draw a comparison to a competitor – ad claims can be used in a multitude of ways. However, many marketers often fail to fully understand what constitutes a claim and what legal implications can be made by using them.

This crash course in ad claims will walk you through the three different types of claims, the legal implications of making them, and what is needed to make them. As marketers within the food & beverage industry, it is important for us to understand how claims can be used properly and in a way that does not misinform our consumers.

Types of Claims – Expressed, Implied, Puffery

Ad claims can be made in various ways. Some can be more direct, and others are often much more indirect. Typically, there are three types of claims: expressed, implied, and puffery.

Expressed claims are the most direct form. They are explicitly stated through copy. For example, “Smoother looking hair guaranteed.”

Implied claims are much more indirect. They include claims that are not specifically stated through copy, but rather through inference. For example, “Each serving of this protein shake contains one full banana – so you have the potassium your body needs”. It’s important to note that implied claims can be made through both copy and visual imagery.

Puffery is a non-specific statement that cannot be proven. They are often exaggerations, hyperbolic in nature, but can open-up a grey area in terms of what is being implied by the claim. For example, “The world’s most refreshing beer”.

Legal Implications

When making a claim, advertisers are not only responsible for any intended claims, but also any reasonable interpretations of their claims. Therefore, it is important to understand how each of the three different types of ad claims work, and what is needed to make them. If a claim is made that is not (or cannot) be substantiated, that company may be vulnerable to legal ramifications. The following are some (but not all) of the regulatory bodies that govern advertising laws:

  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Self-Regulatory Groups
  • Special Interest Groups/Industry Watchdogs
  • Private Parties

How to Make a Claim

First and foremost, consult legal counsel. Ad claims can be tricky to maneuver. Throughout the entire process, it is best to consult competent legal aid to ensure all claims (expressed or implied) are covered.

The key to making ad claims is substantiation. Through research and proper testing, claims must be backed up with reasonable evidence. There are many ways to substantiate a claim. For a full breakdown of how to make an ad claim, please download our latest white paper False and Misleading Advertising: Understanding and Navigating Ad Claims.

To learn more about ad claim substantiation, and how ChefsBest’s services can help your company create substantiated claims, contact us today.