The ads told viewers to “Show me the Carfax.” In return, the National Advertising Division told the company to show it some substantiation. Following an inquiry letter from the NAD, Carfax, Inc., a provider of vehicle history reports for used cars, has agreed to discontinue certain broadcast advertising.
The self-regulatory body sought substantiation for claims in a Carfax television ad, including express claims such as: “Just give me the Carfax”; “Before you buy a car, just say, ‘Show me the Carfax’ ”; “You want to see the accidents and service records reported to Carfax and a price based on the car’s history”; and “Don’t run the risk of buying used cars with costly hidden problems. Get a detailed vehicle history report from our nationwide database within seconds.” The NAD also considered an implied claim that the Carfax report “provides a complete history of the used car and consumers can rely solely on the report when purchasing the car.”
Upon receipt of the inquiry, Carfax informed the NAD that it believed the challenged ads were “truthful and accurate.” However, due to “business reasons,” the company discontinued the television commercial in question.
“NAD believed the challenged television commercial reasonably communicated the implied message that consumers interested in purchasing a used car can rely solely on a Carfax report for a vehicle’s complete history,” the NAD wrote. “NAD appreciated the advertiser’s permanent discontinuance of the television commercial, an action it deemed necessary and proper under the circumstances.”
To read the NAD’s press release about the case, click here.
Why it matters: The Carfax case provides a reminder that advertisers should be prepared to substantiate both express and implied advertising claims. The company may have discontinued the ad, but the NAD made sure to note that the move was both “necessary and proper under the circumstances.”