In a challenge brought by Dyson, the National Advertising Division recommended that vacuum cleaner manufacturer Euro-Pro Operating discontinue claims for its Shark Navigator Freestyle Vacuum, including claims that the product “never loses cleaning power” and has “true upright performance.”

The advertiser argued that the Navigator runs on batteries and “never loses power” over the life of the battery, approximately 24 minutes. Consumers do not expect that the cordless vacuum works indefinitely, Euro-Pro said.

While the NAD agreed that the claim would not be construed by consumers as a claim of everlasting or indefinite cleaning power, it also said the claim communicated a “bolder message” than was intended.

“Reasonable consumers could take away the message that the Navigator will not lose its cleaning power for an unusually long time – rather than within 24 minutes,” the NAD said.

Turning to the “true upright performance” claim, the NAD said that consumers could assume that the vacuum “is fully substitutable for an upright vacuum,” notwithstanding the ineffective disclaimers on the product packaging attempting to limit the claim by referencing vacuum testing standards.

Euro-Pro’s disclaimer “is not clear and conspicuous. It appears in very small print below [a photograph]. Furthermore, the disclaimer refers to [vacuum testing protocols], which are not known by or understandable to ordinary consumers,” the NAD said.

Both claims should be discontinued, the NAD recommended.

A third claim, that the Euro-Pro is “best in class runtime” should be modified, the NAD concluded. Again, the advertiser attempted to qualify the claim by limiting it to the five top-selling vacuums in the market. But once again, the NAD said the disclosure was not sufficiently clear and conspicuous. “The language appears on the bottom of the package in significantly smaller font than the main claim,” the NAD explained.

Accordingly, the advertiser should modify the claim to make the disclaimer clear and conspicuous.

To read the NAD’s press release about the decision, click here.

Why it matters: The decision provides important guidance to advertisers about disclaimers. As the NAD wrote in its decision, “Disclaimers should be both ‘clear and conspicuous’ and ‘effectively communicated’ and cannot contradict or ‘significantly limit the message conveyed by the claim.’ Furthermore, the limiting language must be displayed in a manner that is readily noticeable, readable, and understandable to the audience to whom it is disseminated.”