BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Cambridge Pavers Discontinue Certain Claims, Following Challenge By Four Competitors

New York, New York – Jan. 11,  2010 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Cambridge Pavers, Inc., discontinue certain comparative and superior performance claims, following a challenge by four makers of competing pavingstone products.

At the outset, NAD noted its appreciation for the advertiser’s statement that it would voluntarily discontinue the use of the word “patented” to describe its “AmorTec” pavingstone manufacturing process, an action NAD deemed necessary and proper. NAD determined, however, that Cambridge can continue to refer to its production process as “unique.”

Claims made by Cambridge in broadcast, print and Internet advertising were challenged by Capitol Pavers & Retaining Walls, Inc., Unilock New York, Inc., Grinnell Concrete Pavingstones, Inc., and Concrete Stone & Tile Corp.  Claims at issue included:

  • “Pavers without ArmorTec will look faded and ultimately, completely colorless as the sand, cement and color wear off”
  • “As the pavers are subjected to foot traffic and weathering, color on these small and large stones will actually wear down and soon disappear”
  • “The smooth, abrasion-resistant surface of Cambridge pavingstones with ArmorTec will never show the small holes that can become noticeable on other pavers”
  • “Unlike other brands, [Cambridge pavingstones] have a smoother and denser, skid-resistant surface with rich color that will never fade or disappear even after several lifetimes of wear”
  • “be assured that the [Cambridge] pavingstones will always look as beautiful as they did when first installed”
  • “ASTM and NYSDOT test results also prove that Cambridge has a lower absorption rate and greater strength than any other brand”
  • Cambridge Pavingstones will “look like new forever”
  • “Cambridge is the most-efficient pavingstone and wallstone manufacturer in North America”

The challengers also challenged as falsely disparaging:

  • Photographic depictions of competitors’ pavers dramatically changing color and exposing large stones in as little as six months (“The color of the paver on this page once looked like the paver does on this page,” six months prior)
  • Photographic depictions of competitors’ pavers dramatically faded in six months after application of an acid test which purportedly “Replicates wear over a 6-12 month period”

The challengers emphasized that there are essentially two types of pavingstone products manufactured – “color through” one-piece pavers where color is uniformly present from top to bottom and “face mix” pavers where color is concentrated in at the top of the product and adhered to underlying concrete.  Cambridge manufactures “face mix” pavers and the challengers primarily manufacture “color through” pavers.  

NAD reviewed evidence provided by the advertiser that included photographs depicting installations of the advertiser’s product and competing products, results of an independent Acid Based Test conducted by Block Paving Products and an Acid Based Test conducted by Cambridge, results of testing by standards-setting body ASTM and a statement from outside expert Robert M. Toedter.

Following its review, NAD determined that the evidence in the record was not sufficient to support superiority, comparative performance, and denigrating claims, and recommended that they be discontinued, including the claims: “The smooth, abrasion-resistant surface of Cambridge Pavingstones with ArmorTec will never show the small holes that can become noticeable in other pavers,” “Unlike other brands, [Cambridge Pavingstones] have a smoother and denser, skid-resistant surface with rich color that will never fade or disappear even after several lifetimes of wear,” “be assured that [Cambridge] pavingstones will always look as beautiful as they did when first installed,” and Cambridge Pavingstones will “look like new forever.”

NAD further determined that the evidence did not support the side-by-side photographs and product demonstrations and recommended they be discontinued.

NAD noted that that advertiser asserted it would discontinue the reference to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT), an action that NAD found necessary and proper. NAD further noted that while the ATSM test results addressed the strength and absorption rate of Cambridge products, the test itself does serve as a substitute for head-to-head comparative testing and the results were not sufficient to support the claim that “ASTM … test results also prove that Cambridge has a lower absorption rate and greater strength than any other brand. NAD recommended the claim be discontinued.

NAD found that claims related to the appearance of Cambridge products, including “look like new forever” and “as beautiful as …. when first installed” did not constitute puffery because the claims were used in the context of comparing Cambridge products to those of its competitors and, as such,  required substantiation. Given the absence of evidentiary support in the record, NAD recommended these claims be discontinued.

However, NAD determined that, when viewed in the context of the advertisement in which it appeared, the claim, “[t]hese efficiencies are especially appreciated in today’s challenging economic times because they allow Cambridge to give homeowners exactly what they expect … the very best without having to pay more for it,” conveyed a message of opinion as to quality and did not require substantiation.

Cambridge, in its advertiser’s statement, noted that it respectfully disagreed with certain NAD findings, but would take those findings into account in future advertising.