BBB National Programs Archive

BP Lubricants Challenges Royal Purple’s Claims For Synthetic Motor Oil

New York, NY – April 1, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Royal Purple, Ltd., modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for it’s synthetic motor oil.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined comparative performance and superiority claims in print, broadcast and Internet advertising, following a challenge by BP Lubricants.

Claims at issue included:

  • Independent university and industry tests document the performance gains of using Royal Purple.  When compared to leading synthetic and conventional motor     oils, Royal Purple typically:”
  • “Increases horsepower and torque by as much as 3%.”
  • “Reduces engine wear by as much as 80%.”
  • “Improves fuel economy by as much as 5%.”
  • “Fuel economy improvement up to 5% or more.”
  • “Reduces engine heat by as much as 10%.”
  • “Reductions in heat of up to 12%.”
  • “Reduces engine heat by as much as 10%.”
  • “Reduces emissions up to 20% or more.”
  • “Reductions in emissions of 20% or more.”
  • “Unsurpassed,” “Unparalleled,” “Most Advanced.”
  • “Provides Film Strength up to 400% stronger than other motor oils.”
  • “Superior oxidation stability…”
  • API/ILSAC Certified.”

In its decision, NAD noted that the advertiser voluntarily agreed to discontinue the claims “most advanced,” “unsurpassed performance” and “unparalleled performance,” steps that NAD found were necessary and proper to avoid confusion in the marketplace

NAD noted that it appreciated the advertiser’s participation in the NAD process, especially as a newcomer to the retail automotive industry as it branches out from industrial lubricants. Further, NAD noted that testimonials included in a wide range of auto-enthusiast publications indicate that Royal Purple’s consumers are “vocally appreciative of its synthetic purple engine oil.”

However, NAD noted, anecdotal evidence based solely on the experiences of individual consumers is insufficient to support product efficacy claims, including claims related to horsepower, torque, fuel economy or engine heat. While the advertiser may quote from published articles if it provides clear and conspicuous attribution to the publisher, it may not rely on such articles to support efficacy claims for which it has no reliable independent validation. 

Following its review of the non-anecdotal evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claims “Reduces emissions up to 20% or more.” and “Reductions in emissions of 20% or more” because the studies on which the claims were based are outdated and not consumer-relevant.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its unsupported claim that Royal Purple motor oil is “API/ILSAC Certified.” 

Royal Purple, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “appreciates NAD’s review of the extensive record in this matter as well as the NAD’s recognition of the difficulty the automotive industry has with accurately quantifying performance claims based on bench tests alone as they do not accurately reflect real world results.”

The company noted that, while it believes the “tests and testimonials it supplied as evidence accurately portray the benefits of using its synthetic oil in a wide variety of applications, it defers to the NAD’s position that those tests and testimonials alone are insufficient to support specific performance attribute claims in consumer advertising.”

The company noted, as well, that it has “already made changes to its advertising in accordance with the NAD recommendations and will continue to implement NAD’s recommendations and analysis in developing Royal Purple’s future advertising.”