Char-Broil, LLC recently brought a challenge before the National Advertising Division, alleging that NexGrill Industries, Inc.’s advertising contained a number of unsubstantiated claims, including express claims that the NexGrill grill was the first grill with the ability to allow consumers to cook with both infrared and direct heat; that the grill reduced flare-ups; and that the grill cooked more evenly than other grills. NexGrill asserted that these claims were substantiated by the results of a comparative review by a third party, Consumer Reports, which reported that the advertiser’s grill received higher overall scores when compared with various Char-Broil grills. NexGrill did not provide the NAD with any of its own testing.

The NAD found that the ratings sheet from Consumer Reports, standing alone, was wholly insufficient to support NexGrill’s express performance claims. In reviewing the Consumer Reports ratings, the NAD noted that the chart compared the NexGrill grill to several Char-Broil infrared grills. The chart included an overall score and ratings on various aspects such as convenience, evenness performance, indirect cooking, preheat performance, and temperature range. The chart also included information on whether the respective grills included various features and specifications, such as an infrared burner, whether the grills are stainless steel or coated cast iron, and whether there is a side burner. However, the NAD determined that Consumer Report chart was insufficient substantiation for NexGrill’s express claims because it did not provide any information on whether NexGrill’s grill was the first grill to allow for a certain type of cooking or any other information that would demonstrate the performance benefits claimed by NexGrill. Furthermore, NAD noted that NexGrill did not provide any information about the test methodology used or the product’s representativeness in the market place.

TIP: Advertisers should exercise caution when using third party testing to ensure that such testing clearly supports claims made and that the claims made do not require additional substantiation. In addition, when using third party testing to support advertising claims, an advertiser should verify the methodology used by the third party to ensure it is reliable.