BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Recommends SharkNinja Discontinue Certain Claims Challenged by Dyson

New York, NY – Feb. 24, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that SharkNinja Operating LLC discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s Shark Rocket DeluxePro Vacuum. The claims at issue were challenged by Dyson, Inc.

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

Dyson challenged claims made in an infomercial for the Shark Rocket DeluxePro, the next generation of Shark’s Rocket vacuum, including two product demonstrations – one that compared the DeluxePro to several upright vacuums and another that directly compared the DeluxePro to the Dyson V6.

Dyson also challenged Shark’s use of consumer endorsements and argued that comparative claims made by Shark conveyed misleading messages about the comparative abilities of the Shark DeluxePro and the Dyson V6.

In this case, the featured product demonstration depicts consumers vacuuming their carpets with vacuum cleaners from various manufacturers, and then vacuuming the same carpet with a Shark Rocket and finding a dust cup full of debris that the first vacuum failed to remove.

NAD determined that a depiction of vacuums cleaning sequentially reasonably conveys the unsupported message that the second vacuum, which picks up debris the other vacuum left behind, cleans better than the first vacuum.  Shark did not provide evidence that its DeluxePro cleaned better than all or substantially all other upright vacuums on the market.  As a result, NAD recommended that the “Real People, Real Results” demonstration be discontinued.

The infomercial also featured testimonials from consumers who had signed up for a product testing program through which they were provided with Shark vacuums and contacted weekly to discuss their experiences with the vacuum.

The consumers were not told that they could keep the vacuum or that they would receive anything of value in exchange for a positive review.  Some consumers were asked if they could be filmed using the Shark, but were not told they would appear in a television advertisement.

NAD questioned whether the use of a product for free, even when it is borrowed, might materially affect the weight or credibility of an endorsement because a purchasing decision generally involves weighing costs and benefits of one product as compared to another. NAD also questioned whether the consumers who were given a vacuum to use, contacted once a week for four to five weeks and filmed using the product  represented the  “real people, real results” promoted by the infomercial.

Following its review of the advertising at issue, NAD recommended that Shark disclose the connection between the consumers featured in its infomercial and Shark.

NAD also considered Shark’s use of a testimonial from an Amazon Vine customer who gave the product 5 stars. As it appeared on Amazon, the review included the following disclosure: “Vine Customer Review of Free Product.” The same disclosure was not included in the Shark infomercial. NAD recommended that the advertiser disclose clearly and conspicuously the material connection between this product reviewer and Shark.

NAD noted that the infomercial details the versatility of the DeluxePro and demonstrates use of the DeluxePro tools and its use under furniture and on stairs. NAD determined that the claim “go anywhere versatility” was supported in a stand-alone context. However, NAD found that the same claim, included in a comparative chart, did not make clear that the Shark product has a cord, while the Dyson is cordless – a difference that may be material to the consumer.  NAD also recommended that Shark discontinue its claim that the Dyson product is an “upright” vacuum.

Regarding Shark’s specific comparative carpet cleaning demonstration against Dyson’s V6, NAD recommended that Shark make clear to consumers that the comparison is limited to performance on plush carpeting.

SharkNinja, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “accepts NAD’s decision and will comply with its recommendations in its future advertising.”

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.