NAD Recommends Goya Discontinue Claim that Excelsior Pasta is “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta;” Goya to Appeal

New York, NY –April 11, 2019– The National Advertising Division has recommended that Goya Foods, Inc. discontinue its claim that Excelsior brand pasta is “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta.”  The decision followed a challenge by Riviana Foods Inc., maker of the competing Ronzoni pasta brand.  Goya has stated that it will appeal NAD’s decision.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claim that Excelsior is “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” appeared in Spanish-language advertising, including on product packaging as well as in online video and social media posts.

Riviana argued that Goya had not substantiated its “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” claim, either through relevant consumer survey or sales data.  Goya responded that its claim is classic puffery in all of the contexts in which it appears and, therefore, it is not required to provide support. Goya also contended that the claim is often accompanied by vague and fanciful language and not by references to specific attributes with an objective measure of superiority.

NAD determined that the claim, “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” is not puffery in all of the challenged advertising.  Observing that “favorite” is defined as “[a] person or thing that is preferred to all others of the same kind or is especially well liked,” NAD found that the advertising reasonably conveys a message that Excelsior is preferred to all other pasta brands in Puerto Rico. NAD stated that such brand preference claims for a particular market are objectively measurable.

NAD also noted that whether or not any of the superlative language accompanying “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” is itself objectively measureable—such as that referencing Excelsior’s “delicious variety”—is not what ultimately determines if “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta” is puffery.  NAD found that Goya’s highlighting of certain positive attributes in the advertising ties them to reasons why consumers would prefer Excelsior pasta and contributes to the net impression that consumers in Puerto Rico prefer Excelsior to all other brands.

Because Goya had not provided any evidence that consumers in Puerto Rico prefer Excelsior to all other brands, NAD recommended that Goya discontinue its claim that Excelsior brand pasta is “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta.”

In its advertiser’s statement, Goya said that it will appeal NAD’s findings because they are “at odds with federal court precedent.”  Goya also stated that it disagrees with NAD that Goya’s claim that Excelsior pasta is “Puerto Rico’s Favorite Pasta,” on its own and in the context of its commercials, “conveys the objectively provable message that consumers in Puerto Rico prefer Excelsior brand pasta over all other brands.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.