Adhesive company rejects NAD and NARB recommendations

Sticky Businesses

Back in February 2019 – my, has the time flown – we told you about a dispute before the National Advertising Division between J-B Weld, manufacturer of a staggering array of adhesives, and its competitor Illinois Tool Works (ITW), manufacturer of a staggering array of, well, subsidiaries (go check out the list of its 470 child companies here).

At issue were “Made in the USA” claims J-B Weld allegedly made on its product packaging and online advertising – slogans like “Made in USA” and “they have always been made in the USA.”

ITW called NAD’s attention to the tags because, it claimed, J-B Weld’s products contained significant foreign components, rendering the advertising misleading. (As you may remember from that previous article, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) limits made-in-the-USA claims to products that meet the “all or virtually all” standard, where “all significant parts and processing [are] of U.S. origin. That is, the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content.”)

You, studious reader, also know that NAD attempts to harmonize its decisions with the guidelines set by regulators. So, how did J-B Weld fare?

The Takeaway

Not so well. The NAD held that reasonable consumers would consider the caps, tubes, syringes and other delivery system components as part of the product itself rather than packaging, which wouldn’t be subject to the all-or-virtually-all requirement. It recommended that J-B Weld discontinue the claims. J-B Weld, in turn, rejected the recommendations and announced its plans to appeal to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

And now, seven months later, NARB has weighed in, agreeing fully with NAD’s original decision and recommendations.

But man, it’s hard to keep J-B Weld down. The company rejected NARB’s recommendations, saying that it “believes that its Made in the U.S.A. advertising is adequately substantiated in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.”

And so, the next step: the FTC. The NARB says it’s “referring the advertising to an appropriate government agency [in this case, the Federal Trade Commission] for possible enforcement action.”

Was pushing back at every step of the way a wise choice, or a recipe for a complaint? Particularly to an FTC that has been hungering to impose more significant Made-in-USA sanctions?