NEW YORK (Dec. 23, 2008)—The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Michelin North America Inc. modify a print ad for its fuel-efficient tires that has run in the media since June.
The focus of the challenged advertisement was the impact of Michelin's tires on vehicle fuel efficiency and their ability to save consumers money “at the pump.”
As the advertising industry's self-regulatory forum, NAD recently examined Michelin's advertising claims in response to a challenge by Bridgestone Americas Holdings Inc.
Michelin said it “respects the NAD's self-regulatory process and will take the decision under advisement in creating future marketing pieces that address the fuel-efficient attributes of Michelin tires.”
NAD determined that the challenged advertisement referred to the Michelin line of tires as a whole, noting that the top of the advertisement features the Michelin Man arm-wrestling a gasoline pump under the claim, “It's time to fight back. Michelin fuel-efficient, long-lasting tires help you save money.” And below the Michelin Man image the ad states: “Michelin makes the most fuel-efficient line of tires on the road, which saves you money over the life of your tires.”
Although the ad refers to two specific tire models, nothing in the advertisement limits the “most fuel efficient line of tires” claim to a specific group of tires, nor does the ad inform consumers that this claim is based upon an average of its tires' rolling resistance scores, according to NAD.
NAD concluded that theses claims could be reasonably understood by consumers to mean that they can expect that each of the tires in the Michelin line is the “most fuel efficient” in comparison with competing tires.
NAD also recommended that Michelin discontinue its use of the phrase “on the road” in order to avoid conveying the unsupported message that cost savings claims are based upon real-world or “on the road” consumer experiences.