Ad Watchdog: Lowe’s Should Clarify That Major Appliances Sale Excludes Most Brands

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

An annoyed customer brought a Lowe’s appliance ad to the attention of the National Ad Division, a self-regulation program for advertisers run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Their complaint? An ad promoting “20% off appliances $396 or more at Lowe’s” was largely untrue, except for the parts that said “appliances” and “Lowe’s.”

In reality, not all brands of appliances were included in the promotion: a disclaimer listed the brands that were only 10% off. Those brands were Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, GE, LG, Samsung, Frigidaire, Electrolux, and Bosch.

While there are apparently some brands left that aren’t on that list, Lowe’s claims that the important words “up to” were missing from the ad. Not so fast, the National Ad Division said: even if the ad were corrected, would the average consumer still understand that most appliance brands weren’t 20% off?

The customer who submitted the ad declared it to be a “bait and switch,” since the 20% off deal only applied to very few items, but would have served to get customers in the door. It doesn’t fit the strict definition of a bait and switch, but could easily confuse consumers.

NAD didn’t provide a copy of the offending ad, but did note that “the disclosure wasn’t clear or conspicuous,” and that Lowe’s should make the exceptions clearer on future ads.

“Lowe’s will disclose material limitations in a clear and conspicuous manner consistent with NAD guidance and agreements with suppliers,” the company responded in its advertiser’s statement, making this all very civil. Will Lowe’s make the confusing parts clearer on future ads? Here’s what you’ll see on the retailer’s website now, describing the same promotion.


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