The National Advertising Division (NAD) recently recommended that Sawyer Products discontinue certain claims that its water filters can produce “1 Million Gallons Guaranteed” of clean, drinkable water, is “tested and verified by the United Nations,” and is the “only filter on the market that easily and effectively removes Bacteria (such as Salmonella, Cholera, and E. coli) and Protozoa (such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia) without adding harmful chemicals to the water.” However, NAD found that the advertiser’s “exceeds EPA recommendations for removal rates” claim was supported.

NAD noted that the “1 Million Gallons Guaranteed” longevity claim conveyed a message of indestructability and that consumers would expect the claim to be supported by competent and reliable scientific testing. The advertiser provided a test in which only 900 milliliters of water was test and also provided a study comparing the technology of its filter to those used in municipal water treatment. NAD found that this substantiation did not support the advertiser’s health-related longevity claim.

To support its “tested and verified by the United Nations” establishment claim, the advertiser noted anecdotal reports regarding the use of the advertiser’s filter by UN workers, which the NAD found was not evidence of the product having undergone specific testing that would support its claim.

Regarding the “only filter on the market ...” claim, NAD found that it conveyed that the advertiser’s filter provided benefits that none of its competitors provided. To support the broad comparative claim, NAD noted that an advertiser must test a variety of competing products that represent the market or have other evidence that no other product does what the advertiser claims only its products can do. Here, the advertiser did not provide any such testing, and NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued.

NAD did find that the advertiser’s “exceeds EPA recommendations” claim was supported. Specifically, NAD found that advertiser’s testing showing that more bacteria and protozoa were removed from water than required by the EPA “Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers” to be adequate substantiation.

TIP: To make broad comparative superiority claims, an advertiser must test an array of products that represent the entire market or have other evidence that no product can perform like the advertiser’s product.