BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Recommend Guardian Technologies Discontinue Challenged Claims for Germ Guardian Air Purifiers and Replacement Filters, Company to Appeal
New York, NY – Feb. 8, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Guardian Technologies, LLC, the maker of GermGuardian Air Purifiers and Replacement Filters, discontinue certain advertising claims for the products, including claims that are based on the results of proprietary testing. Guardian said it will appeal that finding to the National Advertising Review Board.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The claims at issue were challenged by Dyson, Inc., a competing manufacturer of air purifiers and replacement filters.
As NAD noted in its decision, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks. The EPA has noted that air purifiers can serve a useful purpose in addressing indoor air pollution. Advertising claims for air purifiers that provide High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) level air filtration have an impact on consumers who cannot otherwise verify the claims for themselves.
During the course of NAD’s inquiry, Guardian agreed to permanently discontinue allergy-relief claims challenged by Dyson. NAD did not review those claims on their merits, but will, for compliance purposes, treat the claims as though NAD had recommended they be discontinued and the advertiser agreed to comply.
At the center of this case were the advertiser’s express and implied claims related to HEPA-level air filtration and the testing that formed the basis for the claims.
According to Dyson, Guardian’s testing is based on a test methodology developed and used exclusively by LMS technologies (LMS 2000), Guardian’s testing company, instead of standard, publicly-available protocols. Dyson argued that the LMS 2000 protocol is not consumer relevant and is easier to pass than any of the standard protocols for a number of reasons.
Guardian argued that there is no single standard methodology for testing HEPA media and/or filters, and that appropriate test methodologies include the LMS 2000, ANSI/ASHRAE 52.2, ISO 29463, EN 1822 and ASTM F1471. According to Guardian, LMS 2000 is a well-recognized HEPA-testing protocol used by hundreds of companies in the air-purifier market.
Guardian also defended its use of claims referring to “HEPA-Type” air filters and “HEPA media” where they do not meet the HEPA standard because many manufacturers do the same for their air filters which fall short of the HEPA standard. Guardian also argued that its “HEPA Fresh Filter” claim is supported because it is a trademarked marketing term.
Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser’s testing did not provide a good fit for the challenged claims and noted that trademark registration does not eliminate the requirement that advertisers have a reasonable basis for all express and implied messages conveyed by the trademark alone and in conjunction with other elements of the advertisement.
NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its “HEPA Type” and “HEPAFresh” claims.
NAD determined that the LMS 2000 testing was fatally flawed, rendering the results insufficiently reliable to support the challenged claims.
NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue the “doctor recommended” claim or ensure that the claim does not appear in a context that conveys the unsupported message that doctors recommend Guardian’s air purifiers.
Guardian, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company will discontinue its “doctor-recommended” claims, “HEPA-Fresh” and “HEPA-type claims.” The company said it will appeal NAD’s recommendation that it discontinue its remaining HEPA filter claims.
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.