In "Made In America" Case NAD Finds That Advertisers Should Not Rely On Disclosures To Cure A False Or Misleading Claim

Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA)


With firms representing more than 90 countries, each GALA member has the local expertise and experience in advertising, marketing and promotion law that will help your campaign achieve its objectives, and navigate the legal minefield successfully. GALA is a uniquely sensitive global resource whose members maintain frequent contact with each other to maximize the effectiveness of their collaborative efforts for their shared clients. GALA provides the premier worldwide resource to advertisers and agencies seeking solutions to problems involving the complex legal issues affecting today's marketplace.
The National Advertising Division of BBB National Programs (NAD) recommended last month that Stihl Incorporated USA (Stihl), a manufacturer of equipment and tools, discontinue or modify...
United States Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on

The National Advertising Division of BBB National Programs (NAD) recommended last month that Stihl Incorporated USA (Stihl), a manufacturer of equipment and tools, discontinue or modify its unqualified "Made in America" claims. Modified claims would need to make clear that "not all (or virtually all) of its products are made in the United States and that not all (or virtually all) of the parts of those products are from the United States," according to the recommendations.

The Claims at Issue

NAD reviewed "Made in America" claims made on Stihl's website, social media, commercials, and print ads. In addition to claiming "Made in America," Stihl ran ads stating, "It's just three words. But they tell you everything you need to know...Not everyone can say them. But we can. MADE IN AMERICA."

Importantly, Stihl's advertising included a disclosure that "a majority of Stihl's products sold in America are made in America of U.S. and global materials." In the video commercial, for example, the disclosure permanently occupied the bottom of the screen.

Stihl's advertisements were challenged by the Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, which presented a survey of over 800 consumers to demonstrate that 35.7% of consumers took away the message that "all or virtually all of the parts of Stihl's products were made in the United States."

NAD's Decision

NAD agreed that the survey was valid and demonstrated that Stihl's advertising conveyed an unqualified "Made in America" line claim about Stihl's products. Moreover, NAD concluded that Stihl's disclosure was ineffective because its "Made in America" claims were too prominent. Specifically, NAD determined that images Stihl used in its advertising—waving American flags, equipment moving through factories, consumers using tools, scenic locations across the U.S.—distracted consumers from the small-print disclosure, rendering it ineffective.

NAD also found that the challenged advertisements did not promote a particular product and thus reasonably conveyed that all or virtually all Stihl products are made in the U.S. NAD found that Stihl provided no evidence that the significant parts and processing of all its products occur in the U.S., or that all of its products contain no foreign content. Accordingly, NAD recommended that Stihl discontinue the unqualified "Made in America" claims.

However, NAD noted that nothing in its decision would prevent Stihl from making a properly qualified "Made in America" claim as to the specific products and parts that are made in America.

The case reinforces the age-old tenet that a disclosure cannot cure a false claim or a false net impression. Accordingly, marketers should proceed with caution before relying on disclosures, and must carefully evaluate their advertising in context to ensure that the net impression is not false or misleading.

Did you know: FDA recently finalized a guidance document on New Dietary Ingredients?

To stay on top of NAD news, bookmark our All About Advertising Law blog and subscribe to our monthly newsletter. To learn more about Venable's Advertising Law services, click here. And listen to the Ad Law Tool Kit Show—a new podcast from Venable.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

See More Popular Content From

Mondaq uses cookies on this website. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies as set out in our Privacy Policy.

Learn More