New York, NY – October 12, 2023 – In a challenge brought by James Hardie Building Products, Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Louisiana-Pacific Corporation (LP) provided a reasonable basis for the claim that “LP®BuilderSeries®Lap Siding is lighter than fiber cement, allowing you to carry more boards with less effort.” However, NAD recommended certain quantified and unquantified superiority claims about its SmartSide, SmartSide ExpertFinish, and BuilderSeries engineered wood products compared to fiber cement products be modified or discontinued.
Siding products come in various materials including fiber cement, wood, engineered wood, and vinyl with differing price and performance attributes such as protection, durability, and aesthetics.
As support for LP’s superiority claims, which appeared on its website and in videos showing timed installations of company-engineered wood products versus fiber cement products, LP relied on the results of time-motion studies conducted by a leading construction cost data provider, commissioned by LP.
Faster Installation Claims
James Hardie challenged certain quantified installation claims made by LP that touted a precise comparative installation advantage of LP-engineered wood products over fiber cement products including, for example, that “Overall, LP®SmartSide®products installed 30% faster than fiber cement.”
NAD determined that the studies did not reliably support such precise quantified results due to certain non-product variables that may have impacted the results and recommended that the quantified installation claims be discontinued. Further, NAD recommended that LP discontinue the videos or modify them to avoid conveying any quantified installation advantage claims.
NAD found, however, that the studies reasonably support a qualified comparative message that, in the context of the study, LP’s SmartSide and SmartSide ExpertFinish engineered wood products install faster than fiber cement. Accordingly, NAD recommended that LP:
NAD recommended that LP modify the claim “LP®SmartSide®Lap weighs 45% less than fiber cement” to clearly and conspicuously disclose the basis of the weight comparison (i.e., that the comparison is based on the weight of equal 1’ pieces of the products). NAD found that this modification would avoid conveying an unsupported message that LP’s claim is based on a comparison of the products prior to being cut.
NAD also found a reasonable basis of support for the challenged unquantified claim that “LP®BuilderSeries®Lap Siding is lighter than fiber cement, allowing you to carry more boards with less effort.”
Because NAD determined that the studies’ small sample size does not provide a reliable measure of quantified comparative performance, NAD recommended that LP discontinue the claim that “Primed LP®SmartSide®Lap reduced waste by 7% compared to fiber cement.”
NAD recommended that LP modify its advertising to avoid conveying the unsupported message that by using its engineered wood products instead of James Hardie fiber cement products, consumers can spend less on labor costs. However, NAD noted that nothing in its decision prevents LP from making a more limited comparative savings claim for which it has adequate support.
In its advertiser statement, LP agreed to “modify/discontinue the advertising statements addressed in NAD’s recommendation” even though it “respectfully disagrees with NAD’s decision in several respects, especially with regard to whether the third-party studies adequately supported the precise quantified results.”
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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.