New York, NY – April 28, 2014 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Age of Learning discontinue challenged claims made in broadcast advertising for the company’s “ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy,” including claims that imply that children who use ABCmouse.com early in life will have a “head start” over children who are not exposed to the product.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The claims at issue, made through testimonials in three commercials and a scripted spot in a fourth commercial reviewed by NAD, were challenged by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., a competing provider of educational products.
Challenged claims included:
- ABCmouse.com is an appropriate learning tool for children younger than 24 months of age.
- Children at least as young as 18 months of age will achieve academic acumen by using ABCmouse.com.
- Children with learning disabilities, such as forms of attention deficit disorder, will benefit from ABCmouse.com.
- A supplemental learning product such as ABCmouse.com is critical for a child’s success in school, and the absence of such pre-kindergarten supplementation will cause one’s child to be behind other children throughout his or her school years.
The advertiser explained at the outset that ABCmouse.com is a supplementary curriculum resource for children ages two to six that offers by subscription interactive learning activities, including books, songs, games, animations, puzzles, art activities, and “printables.”
Commercials reviewed by NAD featured the grandmother of a “bored” two-year-old who became excited about learning after using ABCmouse.com because “she thinks she’s playing a game,” the father of a four-year-old with a learning disability and a teacher. The fourth commercial featured children who urged adults to go ABCmouse.com and subscribe because “I got five years. Five. Five. Five. That’s the early learning window. Do you know what that is? It’s your chance. It’s your chance. To give me a head start … .”
During the course of NAD’s review, the advertiser said it would permanently discontinue the challenged advertising claims in the spots that featuring the two- and four-year-old children, review the remainder of its advertising materials and “delete or modify any references therein that may reasonably convey to consumers the message that ABCmouse.com is appropriate for children under the age of two or that the website is designed for children with learning disabilities.” Further, the advertiser said it would modify the “Teacher” television spot to discontinue the identified language conveying specific product efficacy claims.
NAD determined that the advertiser’s actions were necessary and appropriate.
NAD acknowledged in its decision that the advertiser had volunteered to revise the fourth spot by removing references which suggest that ABCmouse.com is uniquely suited to provide long-term future education benefits. However, NAD was concerned about the advertiser’s continued use of the phrase “I got five years. Five. Five. Five. That’s the early learning window. Do you know what that is? It’s your chance. It’s your chance. To give me a head start. A head start.”
NAD determined that the phrase conveyed an unsupported implied message that children who use ABCmouse.com early in life will have a “head start” – leading to long-term future education benefits – over those who do not use the product. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim.
The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it “appreciated the careful review undertaken by NAD and agrees to take NAD’s recommendation into account in future advertising. AofL supports NAD and encourages others in the advertising industry to participate in the self-regulatory process.”