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 recommendation."
"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 these claims."
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 tested.
"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.'"