The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently recommended that Euro-Pro Operating, LLC, discontinue the claim that its Shark vacuum cleaner receives “more 5-star online reviews than any other vacuum brand.”
The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently recommended that Euro-Pro Operating, LLC, discontinue the claim that its Shark vacuum cleaner receives “more 5-star online reviews than any other vacuum brand.” That claim, and several others, was challenged by Dyson, Inc., on the basis that the claim was only based on a self-selected set of online reviews and not on the universe of online reviews.
The NAD determined that the 5-star online review claim was broad and reasonably conveyed a message that Shark conducted an extensive review of reliable and representative “5-star” online reviews from the entire universe of online reviews. However, Euro-Pro’s data set was limited to reviews from seven online retailer websites. The NAD found that even though the advertiser gathered initial data from the top 85% of retailer websites, the data that the advertiser relied on in making the claim consisted of claims from only 39% of online retailers; the advertiser stated that it did not rely on data from the certain websites (including at Target, Best Buy, and Costco) because those websites do not verify reviews as having been from someone who purchased the product. The NAD found that by discounting or disregarding reviews from certain retailer websites, as well as from manufacturer’s websites, Euro-Pro materially undermined the reliability of the bottom line of its tabulations. The NAD further stated that “[a]dvertisers cannot base claims on tenuous evidence simply because sufficiently reliable evidence is too difficult to collect.”
The NAD also took issue with Euro-Pro’s limitation of the products compared because the advertiser only collected data for vacuum cleaners at a $149.99 price point or above, thereby further limiting its data set. The advertiser’s disclaimer explaining the limitation (“*based on an aggregate of verified online reviews at major retailers of leading uprights per NPD over $149, 6/2014”) was deemed by the NAD to be neither clear nor conspicuous because it failed to communicate the limitations of the claim, namely that the claim excluded reviews on a substantial portion of online retailers, and the disclaimer was fleeting in the video infomercial and not properly placed on packaging. Euro-Pro said it will appeal the NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).
Notably, this decision follows a review of Euro-Pro’s advertising last year in which NAD recommended that Euro-Pro discontinue the use of the claim “America’s most recommended vacuum” and “America’s most recommended vacuum brand” because the data on which Euro-Pro based the claims was neither representative of the consumer population that it purported to represent nor reliable. In that case, the NAD and NARB noted that inconsistencies in the availability and retention of reviews across websites negatively impacted the reliability of the underlying data.
Tip: Companies looking to support claims through non-traditional studies or survey evidence should ensure that the data used still meets the criteria for adequate substantiation, including that it is reliable and representative of the population identified by the claim and includes relevant data.