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 advertising at issue was challenged by Rust-Oleum Corporation, the maker of competing spray paint products.
Rust-Oleum challenged express claims that included:
- “maximum coverage”
- “Ultimate Coverage” and “ultimate coverage”
The advertiser maintained that the claim “maximum coverage” is puffery and does not convey a comparative message. The challenger argued that the phrase appears adjacent to measurable comparative performance claims and expressly communicates to consumers that the CoverMaxx spray paints provide the best coverage of any spray paint in its class.
In this case, the challenged claim states in its entirety that CoverMaxx Primer “Seals, primes, and protects for maximum coverage.”
Beneath this statement are four bullet points: “Smooths uneven surfaces,” “Increases Paint Adhesion,” “Ensures true paint color is achieved,” and “Features the EZ Touch 360 conical tip.”
NAD determined that “Seals, primes, and protects for maximum coverage” claim and the bullet points are non-comparative statements that describe the purpose and function of the CoverMaxx Primer. NAD determined that “maximum coverage” in this context did not communicate a superiority message requiring substantiation.
The challenger also contended that the CoverMaxx product name should be discontinued as it expressly conveyed the message that the product provides superior spray paint coverage in comparison to leading competitors.
As a general rule, absent extrinsic evidence that consumers have been confused or misled, NAD will not require advertisers to change the name of a product simply because a challenger suspects the name may be misleading. However, where the product name makes an express claim which conveys a message that is not supported, extrinsic evidence of consumer confusion is not required to recommend a product name change. NAD noted that the challenger did not provide any reliable extrinsic evidence of consumer confusion.
Here, the challenger cited a recent decision, reached by NAD and affirmed by the National Advertising Review Board, regarding Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover spray paint. Both NAD and NARB determined that the product name conveyed a message that the product delivers twice the coverage of other spray paint brands, an express performance claim.
Unlike Rust-Oleum’s 2x Ultra Cover product name, NAD found that the CoverMaxx name was vague and did not convey a clear, specific and measurable message about product performance.
NAD next considered whether the “ultimate coverage” claim communicated a comparative message that CoverMaxx is superior to competing spray paints and found that the claim, in the context in which it appeared, was puffery.
Sherwin-Williams, in its advertiser’s statement, said that “as a long-time supporter of the self-regulatory process,” the company “thanks NAD for its thorough and careful review.”