Auto Service World
News   June 29, 2009   by CARS Magazine

BP Lubricants Loses Castrol GTX Sludge Superiority Claims Appeal

After an appeal was heard by a National Advertising Review Board panel
on April 16, BP Lubricants has agreed to drop its sludge superiority
claims for its Castrol GTX Brand Motor Oil. BP had appealed the October
2008 findings of the Better Business Bureaus National Advertising
Division, recommending BP modify or discontinue the disputed advertising
claims following a challenge by Pennzoil-Quaker State.

Following deliberation, the panel recommended that:

"BP America discontinue its Œsuperior sludge protection" and "57%
better" claims, or any other sludge superiority claims based on the
submitted M271 tests." The panel further recommended that BP America
discontinue its claims that Castrol GTX passed the ‘industry¹s toughest
sludge standard.’

The panel concluded "Given the amount of time that has passed since the
initiation of this challenge, as well as the significant deficiencies in
the substantiation offered in support of the claims, the panel hopes
that BP America will promptly discontinue the challenged advertising
claims in all media".

"In substantiation of its superior sludge protection and "57% better"
claims, BP America relied on the results of two tests conducted under a
proprietary Mercedes-Benz protocol known as the M271. The M271 test was
run two times on different dates ­ once on Castrol GTX, and once on a
competitive Pennzoil product. The procedures and protocols for the M271
test are proprietary to Mercedes-Benz and not publicly available. The
M271 test is not part of the battery of tests required under either
North American or European industry oil certification standards,
although it is required by Mercedes-Benz as one of the tests required in
order for oil to be certified by Mercedes-Benz for use in its engines",
the panel stated.

"The information submitted by BP America did not demonstrate that the
M271 test on which it relies is an appropriate basis for comparative
sludge protection claims. The test procedures and protocols are not
publicly available and thus NAD was not able to evaluate the test. In
addition, there is no published reference data with respect to the M271
test, no correlation to other tests, no field correlation, no published
repeatability or reproducibility statistics, and no way to evaluate the
statistical significance of the test results. It is significant that the
test results were reported in a document that clearly stated "No claims
can be made based on this document." the panel stated.

"BP America did not establish that the tests on which it relies on were
properly conducted. The submitted test results show that the tests were
conducted on different dates and on different test engines, and it is
not clear from the information submitted whether the same fuel was used
for both tests. In addition, the test of the Pennzoil product was
aborted and there is at least a reasonable argument as to the
possibility that the test was aborted due to a problem unrelated to what
was being tested" stated the panel.

"The information submitted by BP America additionally did not establish
that the tests were consumer relevant in North America, which is where
the challenged advertising was directed, or relevant to North American
vehicles such as the one depicted in the advertisement. The record
included conflicting expert opinions as to consumer relevancy. An email
from Mercedes-Benz said that the M271 test is "more reliable" than a
previous test run on an engine no longer in production, "more relevant
for [Mercedes]," and "better correlated" to current Mercedes-Benz
engines. However, the M271 test has not been accepted by either North
American or European industry certification organizations, and BP
America did not establish that the M271 test produces meaningful,
consumer-relevant results for the overwhelming majority of vehicles
driven in North America" the panel stated.

In response, BP Lubricants stated that "We appreciate the NARB Panel¹s
work on this appeal. While we respectfully disagree with the Panel¹s
conclusions, as a strong supporter of the self-regulatory process, BP
Lubricants will withdraw the challenged advertising."

"We believe that the record before the NAD and the Panel established
that sludge should be an important concern for consumers, and that car
makers and many others in our industry believe that minimum standards
for sludge protection don¹t go far enough. Accordingly, BP Lubricants
has formulated its Castrol motor oil products to include advanced sludge
protection. We are disappointed that the Panel felt that the
substantiation we placed in the record in this matter was insufficient,
and that we did not adequately anticipate the need to provide extensive
substantiation concerning the characteristics and relevance of the
Mercedes Benz M111 test, which is part of the European ACEA industry
standard. We had believed that issue was not in contention" BP further

"BP Lubricants will continue its efforts to provide consumers with high
quality products that perform beyond minimum standards, and make renewed
efforts to advertise those benefits clearly and carefully marshal
substantiation of those claims." stated BP.

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