In a challenge brought by competitor Bridgestone, the National Advertising Review Board recommended that Michelin modify its print advertising for the HydroEdge tire.

Michelin appealed a ruling from the National Advertising Division that found a print ad with the headline claim “More miles. More fuel efficiency. More than what you pay for” implied that all Michelin tires provided more miles and fuel efficiency. The NARB agreed with the NAD.

“[C]onsumers could reasonably interpret the ‘more miles’ and ‘more fuel efficiency’ claims to be superiority claims made with respect to all Michelin tires and not just the specific tire discussed in the body copy,” the NARB said.

Reasonable consumers could interpret the headline claim as asserting Michelin’s overall superiority with respect to mileage and fuel efficiency. The copy in the body of the ad offered an example of one tire which demonstrates that superiority, in part because of the presentation of the advertisement, the panel said.

The “more prominent” headline claim was separated from the rest of the body copy by a colored bar, and the NARB found a “disconnect” between parts of the body copy and the headline claims. For example, the body copy referenced the HydroEdge tire’s superior wet stopping capability, which was not referenced in the headline claims.

In addition, the footnotes at the bottom of the advertisement appeared in smaller and lighter print than the rest of the ad, which should be modified to be made more clear and conspicuous, the panel determined.

Michelin, in its advertiser’s statement, said it disagreed with the panel’s findings but would take the decision into account when developing future advertising.

To read the NARB’s press release about the decision, click here.

Why it matters: The NARB decision reminds advertisers to consider the impact of an advertisement as a whole upon reasonable consumers. In the Michelin ad, the NARB expressed concern about the disconnect between the headline claim and the body of the ad, as well as the separate footnotes which should have been more clear and conspicuous.