NAD Recommends Epson America Discontinue Certain Claims for 3LCD Digital Projectors, Finds Certain Claims Supported

New York, NY – May 22, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Epson America, Inc., discontinue claims that its 3LCD digital projectors are “3x Brighter,” but determined that Epson could continue to promote color brightness based on “Color Light Output” or CLO.

The claims at issue, which appeared in website advertising, online videos, and native advertising websites, were challenged by Texas Instruments, Inc., maker of Digital Light Processing imagers that are the defining component of competing 1-chip DLP digital projectors.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims at issue in this case appeared in website advertising, online videos, and native advertising websites and included:

  • “Epson’s Advantages over 1-chip DLP Projectors … Epson Projectors have up to 3x Brighter Colors.”
  • “In contrast to 3-chip 3LCD projectors, 1-chip DLP projectors use a rotating wheel that spins at a rapid speed, only displaying colors sequentially, which can result in color break-up or the rainbow effect’.”
  • “The larger the gamut volume, the more accurate the color. Epson 3LCD projectors have up to 3x Wider Color Gamut than their DLP competitors.”

A key issue in this case was NAD’s analysis of the Color Light Output (CLO) measurement on which certain of the challenged claims were based.

NAD has previously noted that “it is not appropriate for the advertising self-regulatory forum to tell the projection industry how it should measure projectors’ brightness capabilities.”

Here, NAD found that while the CLO measurement is elicited in a manner that has limited consumer relevance, it can nonetheless be a useful guide for understanding the brightness capability of a projector. It is a published test method that, while not universally used, is a legitimate specification of brightness that an advertiser should be free to promote.

NAD found that the advertiser’s claims that promote the value of the CLO specification, explain the mechanical differences between projector technologies, explain how CLO is measured, and promote CLO as a valuable asset for projector consumers are not misleading.

Regarding the advertiser’s “up to 3x brighter colors” claim, NAD noted that quantified performance claims promise consumers that they will specifically experience results to the level or degree claimed in the advertising. Accordingly, they require precise substantiation correlated to the actual performance of the products. Here, NAD determined that the advertiser’s evidence did not match the specific degree of difference claimed, and recommended that the claim be discontinued. NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from making a claim related to comparative color brightness, provided the advertiser has a reasonable basis for its comparative claims.

NAD recommended that the advertiser either modify its “up to 3x wider color gamut” claim to make clear to consumers, as part of the main claim, that the promoted benefit is based on a comparison of projectors in the brightest mode, or discontinue the claim. NAD further recommended any visual comparison of color gamut volumes be modified to include additional clear and conspicuous disclosures that state the specific projectors serving as the basis for comparison. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its superior color accuracy claims to make clear that in the brightest mode, its projectors have superior color accuracy, or discontinue the claim.

NAD concluded that the evidence in the record supports claims regarding the appropriateness of the advertiser’s products for use in settings with high ambient light.

NAD found that challenged advertising explaining the technical differences between 1-chip DLP and 3LCD projectors and the impact those differences can have on color brightness, color gamut or color accuracy, was clearly and expressly limited to those attributes and did not reasonably convey a message of overall color or picture superiority.

However, NAD found that the advertiser’s use of side-by-side images conveyed a broad overall picture quality superiority message and recommended that the side-by-side images be modified to clearly and conspicuously disclose, in close proximity to the image, the specific projectors being compared and that the difference depicted is presented in the brightest mode, or discontinued.

NAD also cautioned the advertiser that when stating CLO measurements in the context of these side-by-side images, it could reasonably convey the unsupported message that CLO measurements are representative of projectors’ overall color brightness performance. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its usage of its CLO ratings in conjunction with these images by clearly and conspicuously disclosing the specific mode in which CLO is measured, or discontinue the use of CLO ratings in conjunction with these images.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue the use of the claim, “[t]hree chips look a heck of a lot better than one chip,” and unqualified descriptions of the images from the different projectors as having “noticeable inequality” in conjunction with side-by-side image demonstrations.

NAD determined that the challenged advertising related to the “rainbow effect” in this case was limited in the manner prescribed by a prior NAD decision. NAD found that the advertiser continues to have a reasonable basis for this claim.

NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the websites, 3lcd.com and colorlightoutput.com, to move the disclosure of Epsons connection to the websites from the bottom of the website to the top of the landing page, as well as on each page within the website, so that the disclosure is easier to notice, read and understand.

NAD determined that the advertisers claims that, “9 out of 10 people prefer images from Epson 3LCD projectors,” and “87 percent strongly preferred 3LCD images,” overstate the results of its preference study and recommended that the claim be discontinued. However, NAD noted that a modified version of the claim that explicitly states people prefer images from Epson 3LCD projectors when they are displayed in the “brightest mode” and discloses the specific projectors being compared may be supported. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim, “[i]n a survey of projector buyers, 79% surveyed thought that a single lumen number means both white and color brightness.”

Epson, in its advertisers statement, said the company “appreciates NADs careful consideration of this matter and agrees to comply with its recommendations.”

The company noted that it is pleased it can continue to promote Color Light Output as “a new standard that gives buyers the data they need to compare projectors.”  Epson represented that it will take NADs recommendations into account as it “develops new comparative claims designed to educate consumers about the important differences in brightness between 3LCD and 1-Chip DLP projectors.”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.