Claims that the Chrysler Jeep Grand Cherokee was the “most awarded” sport utility vehicle over the lifetime of the brand were adequately supported, the National Advertising Division (NAD) recently determined. The claim, however, should not be tied to a specific model year.
The case stemmed from a challenge by Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC to Chrysler’s claim that Jeep was the “most awarded” SUV ever, which appeared online and in television commercials. Although Chrysler presented evidence that the Grand Cherokee has won 189 awards since its launch 20 years ago, Land Rover said the number was exaggerated.
Land Rover argued that Jeep claimed numerous “awards” that were “at best merely ratings, descriptions, or endorsements, and included awards that numerous competing vehicles also received.” The mere inclusion in a group of products that receive a positive endorsement from a trade publication, consumer group, or government agency does not constitute an “award,” Land Rover said.
However, the NAD agreed with Jeep’s argument that awards given to more than one vehicle per year should be counted as awards when they were some of “the most prestigious and coveted recognitions in the automotive industry,” like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick” or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s star rating system.
The NAD wrote, “consumers would not reasonably construe the claim as referring exclusively to awards that were given to a single vehicle.” The NAD reasoned that some of the most meaningful awards in the industry are given to more than one vehicle. Thus, NAD “was not persuaded that these important, safety-related awards should be excluded from the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s awards tally merely because the awards were issued to more than one vehicle.”
However, NAD did recommend that the advertising make clear the “most awarded” claim relates to the lifetime of the vehicle and not a specific model year and that Chrysler should revise advertising that tied the claim to a given year.
To read the NAD’s press release about the decision, click here.
Why it matters: Although this case has important implications for the automobile industry in terms of the ability to tout awards and accolades, it is important to keep in mind NAD’s qualification that “the meaning of the term ‘award’ is highly dependent upon the context . . . [i]n some contexts, it is possible that the term ‘award’ might refer only to single recipients rather than multiple ones.” But in other contexts – like in the automotive industry – some of the most meaningful awards are given to more than one vehicle, the NAD said, accepting a “more expansive” definition of “award.”