NARB RECOMMENDS MAHINDRA MODIFY AND DISCONTINUE CERTAIN CLAIMS FOLLOWING DEERE & COMPANY CHALLENGE
Mar. 25, 2019
Source: National Advertising Review Board (NARB) news release
New York, New York -- A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has recommended that Mahindra modify its "#1 Selling Tractor" and "Over [2.1] million Mahindra tractors sold worldwide to date" claims. The panel also recommended that Mahindra discontinue its best warranty and superior oil protection claims.
The advertising at issue was challenged by Deere & Company before the National Advertising Division (NAD), an investigative unit of the advertising industry's system of self-regulation.
In its decision, NAD determined that the advertiser had a reasonable basis for its world "#1 selling" claims but recommended that the advertiser modify its claims to clearly and conspicuously disclose that "Mahindra" tractors includes both Mahindra brand and Swaraj brand tractors and that it has excluded certain vehicles from the definition of "tractor." NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claim that Mahindra provided the industry's "best" warranty. NAD noted that its recommendation did not preclude the advertiser from making truthful claims regarding any specific attribute in which Mahindra's warranty is superior over its competitors, including the length of the warranty. Lastly, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim "Superior Protection With Our Branded Oil" based on the lack of supporting evidence.
Mahindra appealed NAD's recommendations to NARB.
NARB is an appellate unit of the advertising industry's system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The NARB agreed with NAD's finding that Mahindra's unqualified "#1 Selling Tractor" claim reasonably conveys that sales of Mahindra branded vehicles exceed competitor sales for all types of tractors, including non-farm vehicles. In fact, the claim was based on sales of farm tractors sold under the Mahindra brand as well as several other Mahindra division brands. NARB recommended that the "#1 Selling Tractor" claim be modified to clearly refer to farm tractors in the main claim. NARB also recommended that the claim be qualified by a clear and conspicuous disclosure making it clear that the claim relates to all tractor brands manufactured by Mahindra, and also include the time period upon which the claim is based.
NARB also recommended that the claim "Over [2.1] million Mahindra tractors sold worldwide to date" be modified to include a clear and conspicuous disclosure as to the time period underlying this claim.
The advertiser argued that its "best warranty claims" were puffery and even if they were not, they were supported because Mahindra has the longest powertrain warranty compared to other tractor manufacturers. NARB agreed with NAD in finding these were objectively provable claims requiring substantiation. In addition, both NAD and NARB agreed that challenged claims were not supported, based in part on the fact that Mahindra's warranty did not provide extended powertrain protection for tractors used in institutional farming or used by small businesses engaged in demolition, paving, bulldozing and other identified uses. Therefore, the Panel recommended that Mahindra discontinue its "best warranty" claims. The panel noted that Mahindra is free to make truthful claims identifying aspects of its warranty that are superior to those of its competitors.
Mahindra also argued that its superior oil protection claims were puffery. NARB agreed with NAD in finding these were objectively provable claims requiring substantiation. Since Mahindra did not provide any evidence that its branded oil is superior to competing oils, NARB recommended that the claim be discontinued.
Mahindra, in its advertiser's statement, agreed to comply with the NARB's recommendations.
Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser's voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.
About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation:
The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council establishes the policies and procedures for advertising industry self-regulation, including the National Advertising Division (NAD), Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), National Advertising Review Board (NARB), Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) and Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program (Accountability Program.) The self-regulatory system is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
Self-regulation is good for consumers. The self-regulatory system monitors the marketplace, holds advertisers responsible for their claims and practices and tracks emerging issues and trends. Self-regulation is good for advertisers. Rigorous review serves to encourage consumer trust; the self-regulatory system offers an expert, cost-efficient, meaningful alternative to litigation and provides a framework for the development of a self-regulatory solution to emerging issues.
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