Panel Calls Prestone Ads Unfounded


The Council of Better Business Bureaus National Advertising Division recommended last month that Honeywell Consumer Products Group cease advertisements claiming Prestone Extended Life Antifreeze can be used in all cars and light trucks and that it is compatible with all other antifreezes. A self-regulatory forum for the advertising industry, NAD concluded Honeywell failed to provide a basis for those claims.

The case was triggered by a challenge from Valvoline Co. An official there told Lube Report yesterday that the company believes it is not feasible to develop a fluid that provides proper protection in all engines.

We have been consistent … that the only way to go is with OEM-approved chemistry, Senior Vice President John Wesley said. Universal or all makes, all models technology cannot meet the requirements of all vehicles on the road.

Honeywell appealed the decision to the National Advertising Review Board. The appeals board is a peer group that adjudicates cases not resolved at the NAD level.Decisions of the board and the NAD are nonbinding but are generally followed.

According to a March 9 statement from the NAD, Honeywell tried to support its claims for Prestone Extended Life Antifreeze by noting that the product meets anASTM Internationalstandard. The panel concluded, however, that the standard in question did not address compatibility or universality. It also found that that results of compatibility tests offered by Honeywell did not sufficiently support its claims.

Honeywell said yesterday that it stands by its ads and that it is not the first antifreeze marketer to make such claims.

We believe the NAD in this instance has improperly substituted its own judgment for that of the leading standard development organization governing antifreeze, ASTM International, as well as long-standing industry standards and practices, spokesman Michael Tillerman said.Others in the antifreeze industry have marketed for years and continue to market their extended-life antifreezes under the same ASTM and industry standards at issue before the NAD.

Valvoline, which markets the competing Zerex brand antifreeze, suggested some vehicles may not be receiving adequate protection from the Prestone product.

Im very concerned about our friends in the aftermarket who have sold or installed or, importantly, continue to sell or install this all makes, all models universal technology because of the potential responsibility they have toward their customers, Wesley said.

The NAD, based in New York, is an investigative arm of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc., a non-profit advocate of ethical business and advertising practices headquartered in Arlington, Va. The NAD follows policies and procedures developed by the National Advertising Review Council, a creation of the CBBB and three advertising industry trade groups.

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