J&J has said it will appeal CARU’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board.
Broadcast advertising for the product came to the attention of CARU through its routine monitoring of advertising directed to children. The advertising at issue aired during the animated television series “Dora the Explorer."
According to CARU, the product, manufactured in colors and flavors that may be attractive to children, is labeled “Keep out of reach of children.If more than used for rinsing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
The advertisement features two children using Listerine Smart Rinse.The mother istates that Smart Rinse is fun for kids because it cleans up after them “like a magnet,” and “shows it in the sink,” after they spit it out.The mother also notes that Smart Rinse, “kills bad breath germs, too.”The advertisement ends with the tagline, “Cleans up after your kids.” A link to the website is displayed on the screen.
Following CARU’s initial inquiry, J&J argued that CARU had applied its guidelines in such a way that any product bearing the statement, “keep out of reach of children,” on the label is per se a product that poses safety risks to children.
According to CARU, the advertiser said that the product bears the warning statement pursuant to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. The company noted that nothing in FDA’s Final Monograph suggests that fluoride rinse products like Smart Rinse pose a safety risk to children when used as directed. The advertiser stated it does not believe that products that pose safety risks only when misused should be considered inappropriate to advertise to children.
J&J further argued that the advertisement targeted parents of children and presented evidence indicating that nearly 33% of child viewers (ages 2-11) watched the show with an adult (ages 18-49.) CARU’s guidelines explicitly and unambiguously provide that advertisers should not advertise products directly to children that are labeled, “Keep out of reach of children.”
CARU said that its decisions are clear that where these products are advertised to children, it need not assess whether the product presents a safety risk. Following its review, CARU determined that the circumstances of this case did not warrant an exception to CARU’s guidelines.
J&J, in its advertiser’s statement, said that the company “appreciates CARU’s finding that we did not intend to direct the challenged commercial to children under 12.We disagree with all other portions of the decision and will appeal the decision to NARB...."