Real wood or laminate? Flooring maker accused of misleading advertising claims

NEW YORK – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), a self-regulator of the advertising industry, recommended that a flooring manufacturer discontinue the claim “Wood Without Compromise” from its laminate flooring product line.

Mohawk Industries sells a laminated/laminate flooring product under the brand name “RevWood.” Its core layer consists of high-density wood fiberboard, typically made from southern yellow pine chips combined with resin to create, which is described by Mohawk, an extremely durable surface that is more dent-resistant than hardwood.

Advertising for the product was challenged by the Decorative Hardwood Assn. earlier this year. In August, the National Advertising Division (NAD) – a division of NARB – urged Mohawk to discontinue the claim that its product features wood. Mohawk appealed that decision to the NARB. The group ruled in agreement with NAD, saying “Wood Without Compromise” is likely to mislead consumers and recommended that it be discontinued.

The panel based its conclusion on several findings, including:

  • The taglines’ misleading use of the word “wood” since RevWood does not have a wood wearable surface.
  • Mohawk’s failure to demonstrate that initial consumer confusion resulting from the misleading nature of its slogan is later overcome during the process of selecting flooring or by later references on its website to the term “laminate.”
  • Mohawk’s use of the “Wood Without Compromise” tagline with the brand name “RevWood” – a brand name that contains the word “wood” – thereby compounding the misleading nature of the slogan.

Mohawk stated that it “respectfully disagrees with NARB’s decision and maintains that its ‘Wood Without Compromise’ slogan is neither false nor misleading; nevertheless, Mohawk is engaged in a brand refresh for its RevWood product and will discontinue use of the slogan as part of the refresh.”

The NARB is the appellate body for the U.S. system of advertising industry self-regulation. It has no direct power itself and instead refers any non-compliance claims to the Federal Trade Commission. The NARB will close cases if a company makes a good-faith effort to bring its advertising into compliance.

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