BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds BISSELL’s “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” Claim Unsupported; Recommends Discontinuance Of Claim.

New York, NY – April 4, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that BISSELL Homecare Inc. discontinue its claim, “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” following a challenge by Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Resolve Carpet Cleaner products.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

BISSELL contended, among other things, that, its “#1” claim is supported by unit sales of its manual carpet formula, carpet cleaning machines, carpet cleaning formula for use in its machines and vacuum sales.

NAD observed that the data submitted by the advertiser makes clear that (1) with respect solely to cleaning formulas for use in carpet cleaning machines, BISSELL’s unit sales outperform Reckitt’s; (2) With respect solely to manual carpet cleaning formulas (triggers, sprays, foams, etc.), Reckitt’s unit sales outperform those of BISSELL and that (3) unit sales for RB’s manual carpet cleaning formulas alone outpace BISSELL’s units sales for its manual carpet cleaning formulas and machine carpet cleaning formulas and wet carpet cleaning machines, combined.  However, BISSELL’s overall unit sales only outperform those of RB when vacuum cleaners are added to the equation. The question for NAD was whether the advertiser’s unit sales data offered in support of its “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand,” appropriately includes traditional vacuum cleaners data sales.

BISSELL argued that both wet and dry vacuum cleaners do in fact remove dirt from carpeting to render it ‘clean’” and that the term “‘carpet cleaning brand’ references all carpet cleaning products, and specifically includes wet carpet cleaning machines and vacuum cleaners. NAD did not agree.

Although NAD acknowledged that an argument can be made that “carpet cleaner” or “carpet cleaning brand” encompasses both manual (trigger, spray and foam) formulas and as well as costlier wet/steam carpet cleaning machines, in the context presented here, NAD determined that consumers looking to “clean” their carpets would not think of a conventional vacuum. NAD found that while a vacuum is a product that helps consumer clean dirt from the carpet  by picking up dust, topical dirt, hair and other debris from carpet, there is a difference between “picking up” dirt from the carpet and “cleaning” the actual carpet fibers. The latter connotes a “wet” cleaning (or “washing”) of the actual carpet material by a wet (or steam) machine/shampooer.  The process by which carpet cleaning machines and vacuums treat the carpet and the benefit derived from each, NAD stated, are not comparable.  NAD also pointed out that the advertiser’s own web site separates vacuums and wet cleaning machines into distinct product categories.

Consequently, NAD concluded, the advertiser’s contention that consumers will reasonably interpret the advertiser’s “#1 Carpet Cleaning Brand” include both carpet cleaning (wet) machines, manual and machine formulas and conventional vacuum cleaners  is inconsistent with how product manufacturers, including Bissell, define the carpet cleaning category and that its unit sales data offered in support of its “#1” claim  inappropriately included unit sales for traditional vacuum cleaners data sales and recommended that this claim be discontinued.

However, NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes BISSELL from making a more qualified “#1 Brand” claim with respect to the parties’ carpet cleaning formulas for use in carpet cleaning machines (or a more limited “#1 Brand” claim with respect to its carpet cleaning machines, provided that market data supports such a claim.)

In its advertiser’s statement, BISSELL stated that while it agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations it is disappointed with the NAD’s decision.  Bissell added that it is a strong supporter of the self-regulatory process and thanks the NAD for their efforts in this matter.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.