BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends Rug Doctor Modify Certain Claims for Mighty Pro, Mighty Pack

Claims at Issue Challenged by Bissell

New York, NY – Aug. 1,  2012 – The National Advertising Division has recommended Rug Doctor, Inc., modify certain point-of-sale advertising claims made for its Mighty Pro and Mighty Pack rental carpet cleaning extractor machines and labeling claims made for the company’s Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The claims at issue were challenged before NAD by Bissell Homecare, Inc.

NAD examined express claims that included:

• Rug Doctor’s machines are “Cleaned and Disinfected” … “By Your Local Rug Doctor Sales Representative.”
• Rug Doctor’s Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner is “2x Concentrated.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising conveyed the following implied messages:

• Rug Doctor’s 2x Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner is twice as concentrated as the Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner, which was not labeled “2x.”
• Rug Doctor’s 2x Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner is twice as concentrated as prior formulations of the Rug Doctor carpet cleaning solutions.
• The entire Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machine is cleaned and disinfected.
• The entire Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machine is treated in a manner as to make the machine free of harmful germs and bacteria.

In this case NAD evaluated two claims – first, that the advertiser’s machines are cleaned and disinfected and, second, that the Rug Doctor Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner sold alongside these rentals is “2X Concentrated.”

The claim “Cleaned and Disinfected” appears on a paper insert, typically placed inside the clear dome on the front of the machine, and on a paper tag affixed to a bag that holds the vacuum hose and hose attachments.

NAD determined that at least one interpretation of the challenged claim is that the rental machines have been, as a whole, cleaned and disinfected. While the advertiser demonstrated that it requires rental agents to clean two specific components with a disinfectant when servicing machines, the evidence, NAD noted, “is simply not a ‘good fit’ for the very strong, broad claim that the machine has been ‘Cleaned and Disinfected.’”

NAD recommended that the either advertiser discontinue its use of the overly broad “Cleaned and Disinfected” claim, or modify the claim to communicate that a disinfectant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been applied to the waste water tank and undercarriage brushes.

NAD further noted for the record that nothing in its decision prevents the advertiser from communicating to consumers that the machine has been cleaned, serviced and is ready to be rented.

With respect to the “2X Concentrated” claim, NAD determined that consumers could interpret the claim to mean 2X Concentrated Rug Doctor Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner is twice as concentrated as the Rug Doctor Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner previously sold alongside the machines – a claim that is not supported by the evidence.

The evidence in the record does support the claim that Rug Doctor Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner is twice as concentrated as the first generation product, Rug Doctor with Spot Blok. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the “2X Concentrated” claim to expressly inform consumers that the product is twice as concentrated as Rug Doctor with Spot Blok.

In arriving at its conclusion, NAD noted that it was not persuaded by the challenger’s argument that because Rug Doctor failed to use the “2X Concentrated” claim when the Rug Doctor Oxy Steam Carpet Cleaner first entered the market in 2008 that Rug Doctor should now be forever prevented from communicating to consumers that the product is twice as concentrated as the first generation product.

Rug Doctor, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company would “comply with NAD’s decision in its future advertising and will take NAD’s claims modification recommendations into consideration for both claims going forward.”