NAD Recommends Summit Metal Products Discontinue, Modify Certain Claims For “Rain Deck” Shelving

New York, New York – Feb. 24, 2011– The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Summit Metal Products, Inc., discontinue or modify certain advertising claims for the company’s “Rain Deck,” shelving products.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed the claims following a challenge from DACS, Inc, the maker of a competing shelving product.

At issue in NAD’s review were the claims:

  • “[O]ver 50% open area”
  • “[E]xceeds existing fire code requirements”

NAD noted in its decision that the “open area” of industrial shelving systems allows water discharged from ceiling-mounted sprinklers to reach fire on lower levels.  The percentage of open area provided by Rain Deck shelving is relevant because the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the standard-setting body for fire suppression systems, may require the installation of additional fire sprinklers if shelving provides an open area of less than 50 percent.

(Full text of decision available to media upon request.)

Advertisers, NAD noted, must possess substantiation not only for the express claims made in their advertising but for all messages reasonably conveyed by their advertising. 

According to Summit, the claim that the Rain Deck product has “over 50% open area” – made at the advertiser’s Website – is truthful and accurate based on the calculations conducted on the perforated product without respect to any particular application or method of installation. 

NAD noted, however, that when the challenged claim is reviewed in the context of the challenged marketing materials, it is evident that the claim “over 50% open area” appears in conjunction with an image of the Rain Deck installed on the horizontal support beams. 

The evidence in the record indicated that, when the Rain Deck is installed on horizontal support beams, the “open area” is not over 50 percent, but rather – according to the third-party engineering report submitted by the challenger – 40.2 percent. 

In addition to the depiction of the product installed on horizontal support beams, the challenged advertising materials also include the claim “designed in accordance with NFPA guidelines” in close proximity to the claim “over 50% open area.”  This claim further contributes to the implied message that a purchaser of the product will receive shelving that, when installed as depicted (on horizontal support beams) will comply with NFPA standards when, on the basis of the evidence submitted, that is not necessarily the case. 

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “over 50% open area” or significantly modify Website advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose that its 50 percent calculation refers to the product uninstalled. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the use of the photograph of the product installed on horizontal beams and the claim “designed in accordance with NFPA guidelines” in order to avoid a misleading takeaway by prospective purchasers of the product.

Finally, NAD recommended that the advertiser permanently discontinue the claim “Exceeds Existing Fire Code Requirements,” which was not supported by the evidence in the record.

Summit, in its advertiser’s statement, said it would make the “the necessary corrections to their Website as soon as possible.”