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The Buzz on Wellness Claims: Navigating the Dangers of Implied Claims


As we enter the sniffles and sneezes season, a peculiar case in the wellness industry sheds light on the delicate dance of implied claims. The TV spot for Vicks NyQuil Severe Honey, airing prolifically in recent months, creatively weaves honey into its narrative, invoking the soothing, healing image of this golden elixir.


However, a closer look reveals an interesting twist—it doesn't actually contain honey as a listed ingredient.


The Curious Case of NyQuil Severe Honey

The 15-second commercial repeats the word "honey" five times and introduces the term "honeylicious." Yet, the absence of honey from the ingredient list prompts questions about transparency in product communication. Consumer advocate and lawyer Edgar Dworsky made a post on his website and reached out to Proctor & Gamble to ask the question that shouldn’t even have to be asked: how much actual honey, if any, was in the product? And would P&G modify their advertising to not give consumers the false impression that real honey and its medicinal benefits are features of this product? Dworsky wrote that P&G did not respond to his query.


So would this fall under the risky side of implied claims?


What are Implied Claims?

Implied claims in marketing refer to suggestions or messages conveyed indirectly rather than explicitly stated. These subtle implications are crafted to influence consumers' perceptions about a product's benefits, features, or efficacy without overtly declaring them.


In the context of wellness products, implied claims might involve associating a product with certain health outcomes or suggesting a connection to natural ingredients. The artful use of visuals, language, or themes in advertising can subtly guide consumers to infer specific qualities about a product, contributing to its perceived value or desirability. However, navigating implied claims requires careful consideration to ensure transparency and compliance with regulatory standards.


Regulatory Compliance for Implied Claims

The FTC scrutinizes implied claims in advertising and considers them as significant as express claims. The FTC emphasizes that implied claims, whether conveyed through visuals, text, or overall marketing strategies, should be truthful and not misleading to consumers. Companies are held responsible for the reasonable interpretations that consumers might derive from an ad, both in terms of explicit and implied messages.


The FTC guidelines underscore the importance of substantiating implied claims to ensure that they are supported by evidence and do not create a deceptive impression. Therefore, businesses must exercise caution and transparency in their marketing practices to align with FTC regulations and maintain consumer trust.




Learning from Consumer Feedback

Consumer reviews on the Vicks NyQuil Severe Honey product page underscore the significance of accurate communication. One reviewer pointed out the label's potential to mislead, emphasizing the importance of real honey in the formulation. Brands should take note of this feedback, recognizing it as an opportunity to avoid implied claims or leaning on misleading messages in order to sway consumers.


Implied claims, as seen in the case of Vicks NyQuil Severe Honey, can invite scrutiny. As wellness brands seek to gain more market attention, a keen understanding of regulatory nuances becomes crucial. The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, where a complaint about Vicks NyQuil Severe Honey has been lodged, exemplifies the oversight present in the industry.


Nurturing Trust Through Transparency

The Vicks NyQuil case offers a valuable lesson. While leveraging popular health associations can be a potent marketing strategy, honesty and clarity in ingredient disclosure are key to building trust and avoiding legal trouble with the FTC or NAD, which closely monitors cases like these to prevent consumer harm. Consumers are increasingly savvy, and a misalignment between claims and formulations can erode trust, hindering long-term brand-consumer relationships.


Wellness brands partnering with Citruslabs have the opportunity to lead by example, fostering trust through transparent communication. The tale of Vicks NyQuil Severe Honey serves as a reminder—a reminder to prioritize clarity, truth, and consumer trust in every step of the wellness journey.


Want to really avoid implied claims by backing up your messages with research? Contact us to find out how to get started. Our team can help you better understand your product, your consumers, and your brand messaging.


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