Hewlett-Packard's advertising claims on some of its inkjet printers and cartridges, including a TV commercial featuring a peacock, have prompted the Council of Better Business Bureaus' National Advertising Division to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
NAD, the ad industry's self-regulatory group, looked into the issue after HP's competitor, Eastman Kodak Company, challenged claims HP made on print, labels, the Internet and television.
The ads make such claims as "The #1 Ink brand is the #1 Value" and "Get More Pages with HP Ink." Others under scrutiny have to do with the specific number of pages a certain ink cartridge will yield. One claim says, "Up to 65% more pages than bargain inks."
NAD says HP did not provide a "sufficiently reliable basis" for claims related to the specific page yield of certain cartridges and recommended the company stop making the claims.
NAD also reviewed one of HP's commercials that said "HP inks give you 65% more pages than bargain inks." In the 15-second commercial, an animated peacock's tail more than doubles in size compared to the tail of the bargain ink's peacock.
The group found that HP's Internet and television ads about the number one brand and value, for example, were fine because the ads were directed toward third-party manufacturers that refill ink cartridges. However, it recommended HP adjust the size of the peacock tail in its commercial to better reflect the 65% difference.
NAD also found HP's claims on in-store displays about it being the top ink brand and number one value were misleading because they gave the impression the company was comparing itself to the entire ink cartridge market rather than other bargain ink jet manufacturers. NAD recommended that HP discontinue the claims in the context they've been presented.
An HP company spokesperson, who asked not to be identified, e-mailed Consumer Ally in response to questions about the case.
"HP respectfully disagrees with the NAD's decision and believes the process used in its determination was flawed in this case," the spokesperson wrote. "HP's claims and testing methodologies continue to be in full and complete compliance with the ISO industry standard. HP provided the NAD with more than enough evidence to substantiate its claims."
NAD says it's now up to the FTC to determine whether it will review the case and rule on it.
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