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Spray Paint Ad Claims Draw Fire

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

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One line of spray paint from an industry giant is under fire from advertising watchdogs for what could be construed as unsubstantiated claims—but the product hasn’t been pulled or renamed just yet.

A recent ruling handed down by the National Advertising Division, run by the Better Business Bureau, asserted that the name and marketing materials for Rust-Oleum’s Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X spray paint went too far in making claims that it provided twice as much coverage as competitors.

Challenge from a Competitor

The ruling came after an investigation by the advertising industry’s self-regulating body, brought about by a complaint from The Sherwin-Williams Company, the parent company of competitor Krylon. Rust-Oleum is owned by RPM International.

Rustoleum Ultra Cover 2X ad
Rust-Oleum Australia, via Youtube

The NAD asserted in its findings that Rust-Oleum’s in-house testing that provided the basis for the “twice the coverage” claims was questionable.

The NAD asserted in its findings that Rust-Oleum’s in-house testing that provided the basis for the “twice the coverage” claim was questionable, and that earlier testing by an independent body had pitted the Ultra Cover 2X product against older products that were no longer on the market, not the paint’s current competitors.

According to the NAD, an advertising brochure touted the product as providing twice as much coverage as “Brand K.”

Under Appeal

Rust-Oleum is in the process of appealing the decision to the National Advertising Review Board.

In a statement in response to the ruling, the company said, “Rust-Oleum does not believe that the statement ‘Ultra Cover 2X’ is a claim that requires, as support, testing evidence that each color provides at least twice the coverage of each color (even non-matching colors) of competing general purpose paints.”

As of Monday (July 18), Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2X was still available via Rust-Oleum’s website. The page describing the product claims “excellent coverage,” but does not make a quantifiable claim about its coverage in comparison to competitors.

A video ad from Rust-Oleum Australia, available on Youtube, says “Be twice as colourful,” and “get twice the coverage,” but in the fine print, notes only: “Requires half the coats as compared to other general purpose spray paints.”

Claims Require Care

An analysis of the ruling, by attorney Sandra Edelman on the Lexology website, notes that “incorporating a specific, comparative product performance claim into a brand name can be risky unless there is a strong and ongoing basis for substantiating the comparative claim vs. competitive products.

“Any type of comparative performance claim made against competitive products must be backed up by carefully conducted product testing on currently marketed, similar types of products, and the language of advertising claims used must be tailored to the test results achieved.”

On Monday (July 18), a Rust-Oleum representative told Durability + Design, "Rust-Oleum does not agree with all the findings of the National Advertising Division. As this appeal is still in process, we are unable to provide comment at this time."

A representative of Sherwin-Williams, the challenger in the case, confirmed that the case is under appeal and said the company doesn’t have anything further to add as of now.

Editor's note: Story edited July 19 to include quote from Rust-Oleum received after original deadline.


Tagged categories: Advertising; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Good Technical Practice; Latin America; Marketing; North America; Regulations; Rust-Oleum Corp.; Spray Paint; Testing + Evaluation

Comment from Jesse Melton, (7/19/2016, 11:56 AM)

Who cares what the BBB says? They have no public mandate nor any input on policy development and compliance. They can't publicly publish complaints against businesses that aren't BBB members and you've got to pay for that privilege. They're pointless and absurdly arrogant, like those Sea Shepherd people but without the fun ships. The way they foist themselves off as an official public interest organization instead of a marketing machine is borderline criminal. If the paint advertisement is false, then let's get a ruling "handed down" from the government agencies we pay to investigate and make such rulings. Not an NPO with a Russian Mob mentality.

Comment from Jeff Laikind, (7/20/2016, 9:31 AM)

Apparently, if one side refuses to follow the findings of the National Advertising Division, the case is sent to the Federal Trade Commission, which does have regulatory enforcement power.

Comment from David Bishton, (8/6/2016, 5:21 PM)

The household cleaner industry has been advertising this way for 50 years. "We're twice as good as the leading brand." Rubbish.

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