BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Helen of Troy Discontinue Certain Claims for PUR Water Filter Pitcher, Finds Certain Claims Supported Following Clorox Challenge

New York, NY – May 7,  2015 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Helen of Troy Limited can support certain claims for the company’s PUR water filter pitcher, but recommended the company discontinue certain claims made on its website and in television commercials. The claims at issue were challenged by The Clorox Company, the maker of competing Brita water filter pitchers.

In this case, the advertising was produced to look as though it was a homemade video shot by Arthur Tweedie, a fictional water critic. Mr. Tweedie had effusive praise for the PUR pitcher, which “reduces 14 contaminants,” but was visibly disappointed at the Brita pitcher, which “reduces only 6 contaminants.”

During the course his “review,” Mr. Tweedie lost control and snapped his glasses in half, saying: “Oooh! Perhaps I should only use half my spectacles!” He then placed one half his glasses on his face, smiled at the camera, and offered this tagline: “In summary, my review is “No PUR filter? No Stars!”

NAD considered whether the commercial conveyed the implied messages that Brita water filter pitchers are useless and rate no stars, that PUR pitchers are superior and rate four stars or that Brita water filters are ineffective in filtering water and produce poor water quality.

The advertiser agreed that claims about the number of contaminants filtered by the PUR and Brita water filter pitchers required substantiation and provided such substantiation.

The issue before NAD was whether “Tweedie” conveyed any falsely denigrating messages about the Brita filter and whether those messages were supported.  Neither party submitted survey evidence regarding the messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged advertisements.

In the absence of reliable survey evidence, NAD stands in the shoes of the consumer to determine the messages reasonably conveyed.

As NAD noted in its decision, the Tweedie character was clearly humorous and used exaggerated speech and movements in his comparison.  However, NAD noted,  the advertising compared specific and objectively provable information about the two pitchers – the number of contaminants they filter from water.

NAD was concerned that when Tweedie compared the Brita water filter pitcher to half a pair of glasses, a consumer could reasonably takeaway the message that reducing half the contaminants provides little or no value to consumers, like half of a pair of glasses.

NAD determined that the tagline (“No PUR filter? No Stars!”) standing alone may be puffery. However, the same statement, made alongside specific attributes about a competing product, might convey the message that the competing product provides no value.

NAD noted that there was no evidence in the record that the Brita water filter pitcher is ineffective or without value because it filters six contaminants instead of the 14 contaminants filtered by PUR.  For these reasons, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims that the Brita water filter pitcher gets “No Stars” in a context in which it is comparing specific attributes of the two products and avoid conveying the unsupported message that Brita water filter pitchers are useless.

Helen of Troy, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “respects the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”