NAD FINDS APPLE CAN SUPPORT CERTAIN ‘GREEN’ CLAIMS FOR
MACBOOK, RECOMMENDS COMPANY MODIFY
WORLD’S GREENEST ‘FAMILY’ CLAIM
New York, NY – June 18, 2009 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business
Bureaus has recommended that Apple Inc. modify advertising for the company’s MacBook laptop
Computers to clarify the basis for its comparative advertising claim and avoid overstatement.
NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed express and implied superiority and
Product description claims in broadcast and Internet advertising, following a challenge by Dell, Inc.,
A competing maker of laptops and other computer equipment.
Specifically, NAD examined the express claim: “The New MacBooks. The world’s greenest family of
NAD also examined the implied claim that Apple notebooks are “greener”
than competing notebooks.
The broadcast advertising features a new MacBook laptop and details the product’s “green”
Attributes, including its recyclable enclosure, energy use and composition. The commercial closed
With the claim “The new MacBooks. The world’s greenest family of notebooks.”
The Internet advertisements feature “the world’s greenest family” claim and state “[t]he highly
Recyclable, even more energy-efficient MacBook family has been designed with the environment in
The Internet ads describe the environmental benefits of the product under the following
Subheadings: 1) Many harmful toxins eliminated; 2) Highly recyclable; 3) More energy efficient; and
4) Reduced packaging.
At issue in this case was the meaning of the claim “the world’s greenest family of notebooks.” NAD
Examined the claim to determine whether that statement represented a superiority claim as to all
Competing notebooks, and whether the claim referred to a product line or to all notebook computers
Produced by any other manufacturer.
NAD reviewed supporting evidence provided by the advertiser that included the Electronic Product
Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) rating on which Apple relied as support for its “world’s
Greenest family of notebooks” claim.
EPEAT describes itself as “a system to help purchasers in the public and private sectors evaluate,
Compare and select desktop computers, notebooks and monitors based on their environmental
Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that EPEAT is a recognized industry
Methodology to identify the “green” characteristics of a computer product. NAD noted that the
Advertiser has specifically undertaken to design all of its MacBooks to reduce their negative
Environmental impact, as reflected in EPEAT ratings, and that it should be free to communicate that
Information to consumers.
NAD noted in its decision that “what is unique to this advertiser is that it has elected to only produce
Computer notebooks that meet the highest EPEAT ratings. While other manufacturers may have
Subcategories of lines with similar ratings, none has comparable high ratings for all of the notebooks
However, NAD believed that consumers could reasonably take away the message that a “family” of
Notebooks is a line of products and not all the products produced by a manufacturer. Accordingly,
NAD recommended that Apple modify its “world’s greenest family of notebooks” claim to make
Clearer that the basis of comparison is between all MacBooks to all notebooks made by a given
Competitor and avoid the reference to “world’s greenest” given the potential for overstatement –