After Conair Corp. declined to participate in a review by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of its claim that the Cuisinart brand is “The Most Trusted Name in the Kitchen,” the self-regulatory body referred the case to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Competitor Whirlpool, the maker of KitchenAid appliances, challenged Conair’s claim, which appears on product packaging for everything from food processors and coffee makers to fondue sets, cookware and toasters. In June 2017, Whirlpool reached out to Conair, requesting substantiation for or withdrawal of the “most trusted” claim. The advertiser took a third route, stating that the claim is puffery and that it had trademarked the claim.
Whirlpool argued that a trademark cannot prevent the review of a substantive claim and that the “most trusted” claim could not be puffery because consumers have a reasonable expectation that the product bearing such a claim is in fact rated as such. As Conair also lacked substantiation for “The Most Trusted Name in the Kitchen,” as a general brand claim and for any specific product category, Whirlpool requested that the NAD recommend that Conair discontinue the challenged claim.
Instead, Conair chose not to participate. “Conair stated that it has been making the challenged claim for over three years, and that it would not participate in the proceeding because NAD does not allow participants to assert laches or delay defense,” according to the decision.
“NAD was disappointed that the advertiser declined to participate in the self-regulatory process,” the NAD wrote. “NAD, like the FTC, reviews advertising claims to ensure that advertising to consumers is truthful, accurate and not misleading, including advertising claims that have been on the market for some time.”
Pursuant to its procedures, the NAD referred the matter to the FTC for review.
To read the NAD’s press release about the decision, click here.
Why it matters: Concerned that it would not be allowed to present delay or laches defenses in the NAD proceeding, Conair elected not to participate in the self-regulatory process. Lacking the advertiser’s participation, the self-regulatory body referred the dispute to the FTC but noted that the agency—like the NAD—will review the advertising for its accuracy and truthfulness, without regard to the length of time the claim has been on the market.