This article contains twice as much news*
*compared to similarly priced general purpose news articles
It all started with a simple question: Does Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Choice Ultra Cover 2X spray paint provide twice as much coverage as other general purpose spray paints?
The answer itself is less interesting than how the National Advertising Division came to its ruling. And that story is spelled out in a fascinating, transparent blow-by-legal-blow report written by the group’s review board.
Back in April, HBSDealer reported that the board — spurred on by a challenge from Sherwin-Williams, makers of Krylon — called on Rust-Oleum to change the name of its Painter’s Choice Ultra Cover 2X spray paint.
Rust-Oleum appealed. The leading brand of spray paint would adjust certain marketing claims, but it would not give up its “2X” name.
The record of the dispute spells out the interesting inside story of the competing claims.
For instance, Sherwin-Williams attacked its competitor’s test methodology of spraying Krylon products from a distance of 12–16 inches, twice what’s recommended on the package for optimum performance.
In other words: “Dude, hold the can closer!”
The challenger also cited the failings of Rust-Oleum to provide batch numbers of Sherwin-Williams paint during the testing. So now, who knows if current Krylon formulations were used in side-by-side comparisons?
Sherwin-Williams also cited the case of Bayer’s All Day Energy dietary supplement, whose very name was deemed to be an unsubstantiated performance claim back in 2007. Same thing here, went the argument.
Against this barrage, Rust-Oleum’s legal and marketing team fired back. Pointing to coverage of an industry standard Leneta form 8H Spreading Rate Chart (a black and white chess board), the defense argued that 2X didn’t have to beat every single color. “On average,” they said, it beat the competitor’s “general purpose” alternative.
They used their own apples-to-apples defense, deftly avoiding comparisons to the more expensive Krylon SuperMaxx and Krylon Rust Tough.
“Ultra Cover 2X” is not a performance claim, it’s a brand, they said. And on top of everything, the defense invoked the schoolyard “no harm, no foul” rule, arguing that the challenger provided no evidence showing customer confusion.
Long story short: The NAD wasn’t convinced by the testing results. Further, Rust-Oleum’s appeal to keep its 2X name was denied.
But what happens next remains unclear because of the self-regulatory nature of the system. Rust-Oleum says it will “take the panel’s recommendations into consideration.”
In the spirit of truth in advertising, here’s hoping they do just that.