New York – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council
of Better Business Bureaus Thursday rebuffed both LG and
Electronics for conduct surrounding LG’s
advertising campaign for Cinema 3DTVs last year.
The council, which oversees the advertising industry’s
self-regulatory practices, said
advertising claims were based on “materially flawed” consumer perception
evidence. The campaign claimed, among other things, that in tests, “four out of
five people chose LG over Sony and
for overall 3D experience.”
Cinema 3D is the name LG uses for certain 3D-capable HD LCD TVs
that are based on its film-patterned retarder passive-3D glasses technology.
The company’s ads made bold pronouncements that consumer tests found four out
of five people preferred Cinema 3D TVs to the active-shutter 3D glasses-based
LCD TVs marketed by Samsung and Sony for the overall 3D experience, brightness,
color and picture quality, among other things.
The council also rebuffed Sony for violating advertising industry
system procedures after a Sony executive allegedly contacted customers
regarding the outcome of the case in advance of the NAD’s decision, and used
that communication for promotional purposes.
According to the decision, the council said NAD examined the
conditions under which consumers viewed LG’s 3D televisions, including the
viewing distance and angle, screen sizes, panel refresh rate and the resolution
of the 3D televisions tested, as well as the 3D glasses offered by the parties.
It also reviewed the structure of LG’s consumer-perception
questionnaire, stemming from a concern expressed by Samsung.
“Having found the consumer-perception evidence upon which they
were based to be materially flawed, NAD recommended that the advertiser
discontinue the claims that â€˜4 out of 5′ consumers preferred LG’s passive 3D
over Samsung’s active 3D for picture quality, color, overall 3D experience,
glasses, etc. NAD also recommended that
the advertiser discontinue its characterization of the tested Samsung 6420
model as Samsung’s `leading model,’ ” an NAD statement read.
An LG representative said, “This was a 2011 marketing campaign
that has run its course, and LG has decided not to appeal the NAD’s
“LG supported its claims with an innovative national consumer
preference study that was designed and administered by a leading ISO 9001:2008
certified survey research firm. LG believes that the study firmly established
consumers’ overwhelming preference for the LG 3D television over the
challenger’s comparable 3D television,” the company said in a statement.
A Sony spokesman said his company was pleased that “the NAD
thought there was no reasonable evidence to support LG’s claim,” and in defense
of Sony’s own actions said LG had claimed that the advertising campaign would
be discontinued and was therefore no longer relevant.
“However, as it’s still on its website and other places we felt
compelled to contact our dealers directly,” the Sony spokesman said. “We
disagree with the NAD that this communication violates its prohibition of using
NAD decisions for promotional purposes. We didn’t feel this was for promotional
purposes. We just wanted to contact the dealers as LG is continuing to use
The NAD decision regarding LG noted that LG’s “broad line claims are
premised upon a single test of the parties’ entry-level model 3D televisions,
although the record was clear that all three parties make several models of 3D
televisions within their respective lines — from entry-level models to high-end
technological 3D sets — each configured with any number of combinations of
features and attributes.”
The NAD noted in its decision that the advertiser attempted to
qualify the “4 out of 5” claim with disclosures that noted the specific models
“NAD concluded, however, consumers could interpret the claim to
mean that — regardless of the model and features – â€˜4 out of 5′ consumers
preferred LG 3D televisions, a claim unsupported by the evidence. NAD
recommended that these claims be discontinued,” an NAD statement read.
Although most of its
four-out-of-five people preference claims for best 3D experience, brightness,
color, picture quality and glasses were deemed debatable against Sony and
Samsung models, the NAD did say that “in both cases, NAD concluded that the
advertiser provided a reasonable basis for the stand-alone claim `Picture
Perfect 3D from Any Angle.'”