Updated: Jul 4, 2022
I heard about this one while attending a legal conference hosted by the lovely folks at FKKS in LA this last month, and it was too good not to share!
Traeger, the makers of the wood pellet grill, recently produced a commercial in which they say when you cook with propane gas, your food tastes like gas. Well Char-Broil wasn’t humored by Traeger’s tactics and challenged Traeger claiming that the commercial's copy, “the problem with propane is that when you cook with gas, your food tastes like gas”, was unduly denigrating; that the repetition of the line throughout the spot made it sound like the actors were saying food cooked by gas grills “tastes like ass".
Traeger did not deny this but stated that the exaggerated humor made it “highly unlikely that any reasonable consumer would interpret the ‘tastes like gas’ or ‘tastes like ass’ as statements of fact.” They went on to argue that nearly every American has eaten from a propane grill and that this audience was “intimately familiar with food grilled with gas and the taste that cooking on a gas grill imparts (or doesn’t impart) to food, and knows that food cooked on a gas grill doesn’t taste like gas (or ass)” and that the point of the commercial was to point out the fact that cooking with propane does not involve flavor, whereas cooking with a wood fuel can add flavor to the food. Therefore, the use of the statement about cooking with propane and it “tasting like gas” is puffery.
The NAD disagreed. They took the position that the claims were 'unsupported taste claims' and not puffery. Further, they stated that “no amount of humor can rectify an expressly false claim.” The NAD recommended that Traeger discontinue the ad. This is a good reminder of how every claim in an advertisement needs to substantiated, regardless of how familiar you think an audience may be with the product.
The video has since been officially removed, but thanks to the Internet - it still lives on!
Here’s a link if you’re curious: