New York, NY – June 29, 2023 – Through its routine monitoring program, BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Division (NAD) inquired about a claim made in the InStyle article “Biossance Squalane & Marine Algae Cream.” InStyle is part of the Dotdash Meredith publishing family. Dotdash Meredith stated that it has permanently removed the article from the InStyle website and all of its other distribution channels “for business reasons independent of the NAD inquiry.”
NAD’s inquiry focused on whether the format of the challenged advertising reasonably conveyed the message that the “Reese Witherspoon-Approved” eye cream and product performance claims are editorial content when, in fact, they are advertisements. Further, NAD questioned whether Ms. Witherspoon’s status as a Biossance brand ambassador is clearly and conspicuously disclosed.
NAD noted that it is important to provide consumers with enough information about any economic relationships between online media and publishing and the brand or product so that consumers can decide what weight to give the information. To the extent a digital publisher creates content that is influenced by its affiliate marketing relationships, the content is advertising. Similarly, if content is created because of the affiliate relationship, the content is promotional and is advertising.
Due to the financial incentives underlying the content Dotdash Meredith delivers, NAD cautioned the advertiser to evaluate its business relationships with brands or products about which it is writing and determine whether the content is advertising or editorial and, if it is advertising, to label it as such.
In its advertiser statement, Dotdash Meredith stated that it is committed “to editorial integrity and transparency, including by ensuring that its editorial content is not influenced by commercial interests” and thanked NAD for “engaging with us on these issues and providing additional guidance to the publishing industry as practices and standards continue to evolve.”
This shall not be used for advertising or promotional purposes.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.