You’ve seen the commercials for the Electrolux Hybrid Induction ranges – the ads that say the cooktop can boil water in 90 seconds. I wondered about that. Induction cooking technology is a great thing – safe, energy efficient, and fast – but I didn’t know it was that fast.
I wasn’t the only one who wondered about those ads. Electrolux competitor Whirlpool Corp. thought Electrolux was bending the facts and asked the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus to check it out. NAD is the U.S. advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, and it examined the Electrolux broadcast, print, and Internet ads that include the “90-second” claim.
NAD today recommended that Electrolux modify the advertising claims about the stove’s ability to boil water in 90 seconds.
What NAD Found
What it comes down to is that the Electrolux cooktop will boil 1 quart of water in 90 seconds – under specific conditions:
1. Only on the induction cooking element – the cooktop, depending on the size, will also have 2 or 3 standard electric (non-induction) cooking elements. That one induction cooking element produces 3200 watts. Electrolux refers to this technology as Power Boost.
2. Only in a 10-inch diameter (6 quart) pot.
Does NAD have a problem with the fact that the claimed boiling performance is only on one of the cooking elements? And after all, Electrolux does call it a “hybrid”. I always thought it was a great idea to put an induction element with standard elements – it lowers the cost and it seems most users don’t use more than a single element when they cook, anyway.
Stepping into the Role of Consumer
It’s the second point that seems to really rub NAD the wrong way. NAD said it “was not reasonable or consumer relevant, given that one quart of water in a six-quart pot amounts to a water level of less than ¾ of an inch.” NAD said that, stepping into the role of the consumer and as a matter of common sense, ¾ of an inch of water in a six-quart pot was too shallow to cook a single serving of pasta or almost anything else.
This is at odds with the message of the ads, NAD said, which was “that a cook could boil water to prepare enough pasta for a large gathering.”
“NAD determined that it is not clear from the challenged advertisements that a consumer can achieve a slow boil in ninety seconds only on one of the elements using a ten-inch pot,” the statement said.
NAD said the cooktop is, by all accounts, a meaningful innovation in cooking and said it supports advertisers’ rights to distinguish their products from competitors’ by touting its technological advances.
NAD’s release said: “The claim at issue is not simply one of boiling speed, but instead is an unqualified quantified performance claim that promises the calculable benefit that the induction element boils water in ninety seconds. Given that this claim is unqualified, NAD determined consumers could reasonably understand it to mean that the Cooktop can boil any amount of water in any size pot in ninety seconds.”
NAD said it has no problem with Electrolux claiming that the induction hybrid is innovative and that it boils water rapidly, but recommended that:
* Electrolux discontinue its “boils water in ninety seconds” claim in the context in which it appears in the ads that Whirlpool challenged.
* In future advertising containing the 90-second claim, Electrolux “clearly and conspicuous limit the claim to the unique set of circumstances under which the ninety-second boil was achieved.”
Electrolux, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “respectfully disagrees with NAD’s determination that the advertisements at issue make an unqualified claim that the Hybrid Cooktop could boil any amount of water in any size pot in 90 seconds, including enough water to prepare pasta for a large gathering. It also disagrees with NAD’s finding that some of Electrolux’s test parameters, including the use of one quart of water in a six-quart pot, were unreasonable and lacked consumer relevance.”
Despite its disagreement, the appliance maker said, “Electrolux supports the spirit of cooperation in the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in its future advertising.”
Having seen those ads, I do not think they were telling me the cooktop can boil enough water for a pasta party. But I did assume they are talking about a real cooking capability – and they are not.
Electrolux must have tested the cooktop for real-world cooking scenarios and I’m sure it cranked. Why not advertise those results?