BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Finds Ashland Can Support Certain Claims For Valvoline Engine Guarantee
New York, New York – Nov. 2, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that Ashland Inc. can support claims made for the company’s Valvoline Engine Guarantee.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined claims made in a consumer and business-to-business marketing campaign that included press releases and print, television, radio and point-of-sale advertising. The claims at issue were challenged by the Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, a competing manufacturer and distributor of motor oil.
Claims at issue included:
- “Only Valvoline guarantees your engine for up to 300,000 miles.”
- “Introducing the New Valvoline Engine Guarantee … Only Valvoline Guarantees Your Engine for Up To 300,000 Miles.”
- “…And for added protection, Valvoline has just introduced its first ever engine guarantee.”
- “Valvoline is introducing the first engine guarantee up to, get this, 300,000 miles…”
- “On May 28th, Valvoline will introduce the industry’s 1st and ONLY engine guarantee.”
- “The Industry’s ONLY Engine Guarantee! … We stand behind our products with the Industry’s only engine guarantee.”
As a preliminary matter, NAD determined that, in the context of the challenged advertising, the advertiser’s use of phrases like “unique” “new” and “The Industry’s First and Only” to describe its Engine Guarantee were not puffery.
NAD reviewed the challenged claims in the context in which they appeared and concluded that whether or not an Engine Guarantee is unique to, new to, or the first of its kind in the motor oil industry is an objectively provable statement of fact. Consequently, NAD rejected the advertiser’s argument that such claims constitute puffery, and reviewed the evidence provided in support of the claims at issue.
Following its review of the evidence, including The Valvoline Engine Guarantee, NAD determined there are important distinctions between Valvoline’s guarantee and competing programs.
First, NAD noted, Valvoline will repair or replace covered engine parts regardless of whether or not the failure was caused by an oil-related failure. Second, the advertiser’s guarantee is more akin to a third-party warranty of another company’s product (it guarantees the engine/ engine parts regardless of whether its product caused the part to fail) in addition to a product warranty (it guarantees engine/ engine part replacement if its product is the cause of the engine failure). Third, unlike all other motor oil warranties in the industry, the Valvoline Engine Guarantee does not require the consumer to prove a product defect or causation. NAD found that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis to support its claims that the Valvoline Engine Guarantee is “The Industry’s First and Only Engine Guarantee,” and that “Only Valvoline Guarantees Your Engine For Up To 300,000 Miles.”
However, NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the claim, “Valvoline Engine Guarantee” to more accurately reflect the fact that the guarantee is limited.
Finally, NAD determined that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claim that the Valvoline Engine Guarantee program is “new” but cautioned the advertiser to discontinue the claim by November 28, 2009, when the six-month time frame for “new” claims will expire.
Valvoline, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company would discontinue use of the term “new” at the appropriate time.
“Pursuant to Valvoline’s planned phase-out, we concur with the NAD’s recommended date of November 28, 2009 as the time in which Valvoline’s unique guarantee will no longer be advertised as ‘new,’” the company said.