Conair refuses to participate in review of an oft-used tagline
When Lee Rizzuto passed on in 2017, he was the kind of success story that’s overlooked in the age of Facebook, Google and Amazon.
Rizzuto was the founder of Conair, which he started with his parents in their Queens garage in 1959. The company is now ubiquitous, with a presence in 125 countries and product lines including Cuisinart and Waring. Rizzuto never gave up control of his company, remaining the chair of Conair’s board until he passed. He was worth $3.5 billion.
With a well-recognized brand name in use for almost 50 years, brand Cuisinart is a household name, a fact that Conair is not ashamed of exploiting. A recent marketing campaign by the parent company declared Cuisinart “The Most Trusted Name in the Kitchen.” According to the National Advertising Division, Conair was splashing that tag all over the Cuisinart line − food processors, blenders, coffee makers, toasters, electric kettles, black stainless cookware, the works.
Whirlpool, another iconic company and holder of the KitchenAid product line, bridled at the tag and contacted Conair to get substantiation. According to NAD, Conair responded by claiming that the tag line was puffery, and that, moreover, the line had been trademarked and therefore would not be subject to reproof.
Whirlpool took the claim to NAD, noting that trademarks do not protect substantive claims, and that Conair could not furnish support for its claim.
Conair’s response? The company refused to cooperate with the NAD review process. It claimed that it had been using the tag for three years and that since NAD did not allow companies under review to defend themselves by asserting that challenges were “unreasonably delayed,” it would not participate.
Predictably, NAD referred the matter to the Federal Trade Commission