BP VS. Royal Purple - Truth in Advertising

AndyH

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http://www.imakenews.com/lng/e_article001398592.cfm?x=bfmW6PM,b1bmpjq9

April 8, 2009
Truth in Advertising: BP v. Royal Purple
[FONT=verdana,arial]
By George Gill

Royal Purple Ltd. was black and blue after BP Lubricants USA took it to task over advertising claims for its synthetic motor oil, finding a receptive audience in the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum.

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recommended Porter, Texas-based Royal Purple modify or discontinue numerous advertising claims for its synthetic motor oil, following a challenge by Wayne, N.J.-based BP Lubricants. The NAD examined comparative performance and superiority claims in print, broadcast and Internet advertising. In some of the advertising, Royal Purple compared its performance to Castrol, Shell, Amsoil and other motor oil brands.

NAD recommended that Royal Purple discontinue its use of consumer testimonials reporting specific performance attributes in the absence of reliable independent evidence showing performance capability.

“Anecdotal evidence based solely on the experiences of individual consumers is insufficient to support product efficacy claims, including claims related to horsepower, torque, fuel economy or engine heat,” the organization stated. “While the advertiser may quote from published articles if it provides clear and conspicuous attribution to the publisher, it may not rely on such articles to support efficacy claims for which it has no reliable independent validation.”

NAD recommended Royal Purple discontinue claims such as “Increases horsepower and torque by as much as 3 percent,” “Reduces Engine Wear by 80 percent,” “Superior Oxidation Stability” and “Provides Film Strength Up to 400 Percent.”

“If industry-standard tests or tests with carefully documented controls were abandoned, there would be no basis whatsoever for making any meaningful claims about the relative efficacy of motor oils,” BP said in its challenge.

NAD recommended that Royal Purple discontinue claims that stated, “Improves fuel economy by as much as 5 percent” and “Fuel economy improvement up to 5 percent or more” because its Environmental Protection Agency testing was inconclusive and the “Oklahoma State Study” and single cylinder Labeco CLR diesel engine testing cited in Royal Purple’s advertising was not relevant. The NAD noted the 1997 OSU Study was “outdated and nothing in the record demonstrated that the formulations of the competitors’ oils were similar to those available for sale on the market today.”

BP Lubricants said it hired the independent laboratory Southwest Research Institute, in San Antonio, to analyze power output of gasoline engines with Royal Purple Oil and with BP’s Castrol oil for comparisons. “The results were provided to the challenger’s expert statistician who was not informed of the identity of the candidate oils,” NAD stated. “The challenger’s [BP’s] expert determined a 0.9 percent difference in power between the oils, which did not rise to the level of statistical significance, and is well below the 3 percent claim made by the advertiser.”

SwRI did additional tests to independently determine the differences in fuel economy, emissions data and engine temperature between Royal Purple and Castrol motor oils. According to SwRI, “there was no statistically significant difference between the fuel economy, emissions data or engine temperature between the two candidate oils,” NAD said.

Following its review of the non-anecdotal evidence in the record, NAD recommended that Royal Purple discontinue the claims, “Reduces emissions up to 20 percent or more” and “Reductions in emissions of 20 percent or more” because the studies on which the claims were based were outdated and not consumer-relevant.

NAD also recommended the advertiser discontinue its unsupported claim that Royal purple motor oil is “API/ILSAC Certified.” Noting that API and ILSAC licenses and certifications have many categories with different meanings, the NAD recommended that the company discontinue its claim that its synthetic oils are “generally ‘API/ILSAC Certified.’”

In fact, no Royal Purple products are certified to current ILSAC specifications.

The American Petroleum Institute licenses its trademarked Service Symbol, or ‘donut,’ for display on qualified engine oils, and also licenses the ILSAC ‘starburst’ logo for oils that meet the auto industry’s latest energy-conserving standards. In API’s online directory of licensees for its Engine Oil Licensing and Certification Program, Royal Purple has a total of 23 passenger car and diesel engine oil products listed, all licensed to use the API donut. Five of these may additionally display the words ‘energy conserving’ within the donut logo, but none of the Royal Purple products are licensable to the current ILSAC GF-4 specification and they cannot display the starburst logo.

Royal Purple also voluntarily agreed to discontinue the claims, “most advanced,” “unsurpassed performance” and “unparalleled performance,” steps the NAD said were necessary and proper to avoid confusion in the marketplace.

“While Royal Purple also believes that the tests and testimonials it supplied as evidence accurately portray the benefits of using its synthetic oil in a wide variety of applications, it defers to the NAD’s position that those tests and testimonials alone are insufficient to support specific performance attribute claims in consumer advertising,” the company said in its response to NAD. “... [Royal Purple] has already made changes to its advertising in accordance with the NAD recommendations and will continue to implement NAD’s recommendations and analysis in developing Royal Purple’s future advertising.”

BP Lubricants did not return phone calls from Lube Report requesting comment on NAD’s decision.

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grizzlydiesel

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on the flip side... i remember reading an engine build up in Hot Rod magazine, specifically about oil (aka installing windage trays, using different volumes of oil in the pan, using an oil cooler, even different clearances on the main bearings and such) that back to back testing showed the Royal Purple oil increased power by 8hp or so, and lowered the operating temp of the oil.

although come to think of it, that may have just been because the royal purple was synthetic, and maybe the other oil was made from dinosaurs???

interesting article non-the less. in a world of unaccountability in advertizing, its kinda refreshing. even if it was market based instead of consumers finally being annoyed at overstated and false advertizing.
 

pruzink

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I still think that Royal Purple is an excellant motor oil, but it does sound like the marketing folks went a bit overboard on advertising. I use Royal Purple in my gas engine cars & have averaged very low wear metals (<2PPM FE per 1K miles, <1PPM AL per 1K). A while back I read a PDF file where they tested many of the leading synthetic oils in a device that checks the film strength of an oil by applying load to a bearing until it scars. Most of the oils allowed scaring between 1,500 & 3,000 psi pressure applied to bearing; Royal Purple was good to 130,000 psi. Penzoil GT performance did better that most being good for 9,200 psi. This test was just one aspect of what a motor oil does for an engine.
 

cvalentine

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Royal purple is total snake oil. I love their reasoning that the load test is better for predicting engine wear than an test (the Sequence IVA) that runs an engine and then *measures* the wear.

from the RP website FAQ said:
What is a ‘Sequence IVA’ test and is it important?
The Sequence IVA test is an industry bench test that is used to test oils for API licensing purposes. Some portray this as a sound methodology for predicting wear protection. We believe the ASTM D-2782 Timken Load Test is a better methodology for predicting wear because the Timken test actually measures a lubricant’s film strength (its ability withstand the effects of load, speed and temperature without breaking down and allowing metal to metal contact). Royal Purple has dramatically higher film strength versus competing lubricants. For instance, Royal Purple has nearly 6 times the film strength of Castrol Edge®.
• Royal Purple film strength = 113,839 psi
• Castrol Edge® film strength = 18,979 psi
 

AndyH

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pruzink said:
I still think that Royal Purple is an excellant motor oil, but it does sound like the marketing folks went a bit overboard on advertising. I use Royal Purple in my gas engine cars & have averaged very low wear metals (<2PPM FE per 1K miles, <1PPM AL per 1K). A while back I read a PDF file where they tested many of the leading synthetic oils in a device that checks the film strength of an oil by applying load to a bearing until it scars. Most of the oils allowed scaring between 1,500 & 3,000 psi pressure applied to bearing; Royal Purple was good to 130,000 psi. Penzoil GT performance did better that most being good for 9,200 psi. This test was just one aspect of what a motor oil does for an engine.
I appreciate your thoughts and experiences, pruzink.

This has been covered here in the forum in the past, but the test you're talking about doesn't tell us anything usable about oil - it's a 'quick and dirty' bench test for evaluating extreme pressure grease and gear oil. RP, Schaeffer, and oil additive companies like BG use the test because it looks really cool and seems 'legit' to the untrained eye.

For some reason, these companies won't use Federal Trade Commission findings, or NAD/BBB decisions in their advertizing...
 

AndyH

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cvalentine said:
Royal purple is total snake oil. I love their reasoning that the load test is better for predicting engine wear than an test (the Sequence IVA) that runs an engine and then *measures* the wear.
The industry can be pretty bipolar. One of the companies has their sales force use the 'test' in the field, yet their tech director is on record saying the test is only for evaluating gear oil and results don't match real-world experience. :)

"The Timken EP Test ASTM D2783 provides a rapid method for measuring the abrasion resistance and the load-carrying capabilities of industrial gear lubricants. ... Any test results that are obtained by the use of this test method have been found not to correlate with results obtained during field service." (Properties of Enclosed Gear Lubricants, Noria)"
 

mrGutWrench

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imakenews.com said:
(snip) [FONT=verdana,arial]The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus recommended Porter, Texas-based Royal Purple modify or discontinue numerous advertising claims for its synthetic motor oil, following a challenge by Wayne, N.J.-based BP Lubricants. The NAD examined comparative performance and superiority claims in print, broadcast and Internet advertising. In some of the advertising, Royal Purple compared its performance to Castrol, Shell, Amsoil and other motor oil brands.

NAD recommended that Royal Purple discontinue its use of consumer testimonials reporting specific performance attributes in the absence of reliable independent evidence showing performance capability.

“Anecdotal evidence based solely on the experiences of individual consumers is insufficient to support product efficacy claims, including claims related to horsepower, torque, fuel economy or engine heat,” the organization stated. “While the advertiser may quote from published articles if it provides clear and conspicuous attribution to the publisher, it may not rely on such articles to support efficacy claims for which it has no reliable independent validation.”

“If industry-standard tests or tests with carefully documented controls were abandoned, there would be no basis whatsoever for making any meaningful claims about the relative efficacy of motor oils,” BP said in its challenge.

(snip)Royal Purple also voluntarily agreed to discontinue the claims, “most advanced,” “unsurpassed performance” and “unparalleled performance,” steps the NAD said were necessary and proper to avoid confusion in the marketplace. (snip)
[/FONT]
__. Yeah, I'm guessing that there are no other "snake oil" sellers who are quaking in their boots over THAT one! Yeah, right. :rolleyes:
 

Dimitri16V

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this coming from the company that termed Group III as "synthetic" and now markets Edge as the best oil ever since it has PAO.
 

GoFaster

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Dimitri16V said:
this coming from the company that termed Group III as "synthetic" and now markets Edge as the best oil ever since it has PAO.[/quote

That was Castrol versus Mobil, not BP.

I'm glad to see Royal Purple has finally been shut down as far as exaggerated claims go. I hope Lucas is the next target ...
 

OilGuy

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Nobody gets publicly "caught lying" until a company is willing to spend lots of money to give them a ton of free advertising and take them to "BBB advertising court". Smaller companies know this and step beyond the truth envelope on purpose.
 

dhdenney

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I've always been skeptical of the Royal Purple. Too much marketing IMHO.
 

hevster1

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Well I am an Amsoil user/dealer. I have been using it for years on all my gas and diesel vehicles. Best advice I can give someone is use what you like and believe in. I use what I want and I suggest you do the same.
That said, some of the claims from RP AND Castrol as well as others are outrageous and potentially misleading in my opinion.
A brief note regarding the magazines; Over the years I have seen magazines get behind one product or another. Many times it was because they got paid either via advertising dollars or some kind of kickback. One of the most notable was the"skunk works" long travel kit for Honda Mx bikes in the mid-70's. It was flimsy, expensive and just didn't work. The magazines loved it with perhaps one exception. K&N air filters are commonly pushed by magazines too. I take what they say with a grain of salt.
Andy mentioned BG products. They make an excellent injector cleaner kit and chemicals. It is probably the best I have used. Their oil additive (MOA) is not necessary.
 
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Dimitri16V

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GoFaster said:
Dimitri16V said:
this coming from the company that termed Group III as "synthetic" and now markets Edge as the best oil ever since it has PAO.[/quote

That was Castrol versus Mobil, not BP.

I'm glad to see Royal Purple has finally been shut down as far as exaggerated claims go. I hope Lucas is the next target ...
BP is Castrol
 
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