Competitor Guardian Tech tackled explicit and implicit claims
Dyson, the knight-led, cool-contoured, tech-focused home appliance maker, has been the subject of a lot of coverage this year for its big trial win over rival SharkNinja.
But another company is taking a tilt at the windmill. This time, it’s Guardian Technologies in the air purifier marketplace. Both companies produce compact tabletop air purifier models; Guardian took exception to a series of Dyson’s express and implied claims about its Pure Hot + Cool Link and Pure Cool Link air purifiers.
Shooting from Cover
The challenged express claims included assertions that the Dyson purifiers included HEPA air filters, projected purified air, and removed 99.97 percent of pollutants and allergens as small as .3 microns. The ads also claimed that the products sported “intelligent purification” that “automatically monitors, reacts and purifies.”
Guardian further alleged that Dyson’s advertising contained misleading implied claims, including that all the air projected from the purifier is clean, that air is purified immediately and that Dyson’s purifiers are more effective than other brands. Guardian relied, in part, on consumer surveys to challenge the implied claims.
The National Advertising Division (NAD) answered Guardian’s complaint with a mixed bag; many of the express claims survived, including the fact that Dyson’s purifiers contain HEPA filters of the specified strength. The “automatic purification” claim also survived, provided that the context of the advertising made clear that “automatic” refers to the product’s “intelligent purification” or “auto mode” feature where the appliance senses pollution and reacts by self-starting.
This case underscores a basic advertising principle – context is everything. The NAD determined that, despite the weak customer survey evidence furnished by Guardian, the ads did convey the sense that all the air that made its way through the Dyson purifier had been cleaned. Specifically, the purifying claims were displayed alongside images of the unit projecting clean air into a room. Thus, the NAD suggested that Dyson modify the ads to remove this implied message. Regarding the “automatic” claims, the NAD determined that certain of these claims were presented in a context where Dyson failed to describe its auto mode feature and, as such, reasonable consumers could believe that the appliances purified the air immediately. Since the products do not purify air immediately, the NAD recommended that Dyson modify these claims to avoid communicating that unsupported message by referring to the auto mode feature. The NAD also asked the company to alter the competitive claims so that it was clear that Dyson was comparing its HEPA filter-equipped purifiers to competing models without HEPA filters.
While it politely thanked the NAD for its non-adverse rulings, Dyson expressed its intention to move the remaining decisions on to the National Advertising Review Board for further review.