The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently requested that ViewSonic Corporation discontinue certain claims made in connection with its digital projectors, while finding other claims had been adequately substantiated. The challenge involved several claims made by ViewSonic relating to its digital projectors, including claims that ViewSonic digital projectors provide “superior” and “the ultimate” color performance and accuracy. The NAD examined whether these claims were comparative or monadic in nature.

NAD found that the term “superior” was monadic when used in connection with a list of product features on web pages among “key features” promoting each individual projector model (e.g., “long-lasting reliable picture quality and superior color performance”). Specifically, this type of use did not render the “superior color” performance claim to be comparative because the advertising did not position the advertised product against a competing one.

On the other hand, NAD found that claims containing “superior,” for example, the same “long-lasting reliable picture quality, superior color performance” language, when used in close proximity to references to competing products or depictions of flaws that other projectors may have, reasonably conveyed an unsupported comparative performance message that the color performance of ViewSonic’s product is measurably better than competing products. As such, NAD asked ViewSonic to discontinue these specific “superior” claims in comparative contexts.

With respect to use of “ultimate,” NAD found that although “ultimate” can be puffery, a claim that one of its projector’s color technology provides “the ultimate in color accuracy without compromise” would lead consumers to be led to contrast the projector’s color accuracy with other projectors that do ”compromise” in order to create accurate colors. As such, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify this claim to avoid conveying potentially comparative messages.

TIP: When determining whether the use of terms like “superior” or “ultimate” convey superiority or monadic claims, NAD looks to two factors: (1) whether the claim contains a provable, quantifiable attribute and, if so, (2) what message is conveyed by the word given the overall context in which it appears. Advertisers should be careful to consider the entire message conveyed by its advertising when determining what substantiation may be necessary to support a particular claim.