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NAD Announces Fast-Track SWIFT Challenge Process

To expedite advertising challenges on discrete issues, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau has launched a new fast-track process.  The new process will resolve eligible matters within 20 business days from initiation of the challenge.

Dubbed Fast-Track SWIFT (“Single Well-defined Issue Fast Track”), the process was developed in response to a “compelling need for quick resolution of truth and transparency issues that arise in digital advertising.” Fast-Track SWIFT challenges must only include a single issue. For now, NAD has said that it will only accept the following types of claims in a Fast-Track SWIFT challenge: (1) the prominence or sufficiency of disclosures including disclosure issues in influencer marketing, native advertising, and incentivized reviews; (2) misleading pricing and sales claims; and (3) misleading express claims that do not require review of complex evidence or substantiation such clinical or technical testing or consumer perception evidence.

Fast-Track SWIFT challenges are submitted via the Fast-Track SWIFT online portal. Such challenges must include the advertiser’s contact information, a copy of the challenged advertising, a brief description of the facts showing how the advertising is likely controlled by the advertiser, exhibits supporting the argument that the challenged claim is not substantiated (if applicable), and a statement as to why the challenged claim is appropriate for the Fast-Track SWIFT process. Briefs are limited to five (5) pages and five (5) exhibits, and meetings will be held at NAD’s discretion via telephone or video conference within five (5) business days of the advertiser’s responsive submission.  Notwithstanding that Fast-Track SWIFT challenges are limited to discrete issues, the filing fees (ranging from $15,000 to $40,000) still apply. 

NAD has published the following chart to better explain the Fast-Track Swift process.

 NAD Fast-Track SWIFT Process

Advertisers are permitted to appeal Fast-Track SWIFT challenges, with a hefty appeal fee of $30,000. Challengers, however, are not permitted to appeal Fast-Track SWIFT decisions.

Takeaway: NAD has stated that it will continue to monitor the process as Fast-Track SWIFT challenges are filed and resolved, with a focus on identifying potential areas of improvement and optimization. We too will continue to monitor the process as it develops, and post any updates as they come to light.

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