BBB National Programs Archive
NAD Recommends Skyline Discontinue Certain Performance Claims for its Guard Dog Pepper Spray Following Challenge by SABRE
New York, NY – Nov. 19, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Skyline USA, Inc. discontinue certain performance claims for its Guard Dog pepper spray relating to its range, effectiveness, capacity, and ability to ensure assailant identification days after use. The claims for this personal defense device sold on the consumer market, were challenged by SABRE, a subsidiary of Security Equipment Corporation.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB NP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.
The claims at issue appeared on product packaging and Skyline’s website and included:
- Skyline pepper spray is the “hottest” on the market and contains “18% of the hottest Oleoresin Capsicum (red pepper) on the market.”
- Skyline pepper spray “contains invisible UV dye for assailant verification days after use.”
- Skyline pepper spray can go the “furthest” and “shoots 16 feet.”
- Skyline pepper spray is capable of 25 bursts.
- Competitors’ pepper sprays are less effective because they are not as hot as Skyline’s pepper spray.
- Competitors’ pepper sprays are less effective because they do not shoot as far.
NAD determined that, based on the plain meaning of “hottest” in the context of peppers and pepper spray, Skyline’s advertising reasonably conveys that Guard Dog pepper spray is the “hottest” on the market and the challenged implied message that its heat makes it the most effective defensive device. After reviewing the testing submitted by both parties, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its express claim that Skyline pepper spray is the “hottest” on the market and contains “18% of the hottest Oleoresin Capsicum (red pepper) on the market,” as well as the related challenged implied claim that competitors’ pepper sprays are less effective because they are not as hot as Skyline’s pepper spray. NAD noted that Skyline did not submit testing against all or a significant portion of the market, thus neither the express “hottest” claim nor the implied “hottest” claim was substantiated. Further, the variability of heat in pepper spray (due to non-uniform concentrations of peppers per batch) increases the importance of testing a variety of samples and batches to demonstrate consistency in the products that consumers can purchase. NAD was also concerned about whether the products consumers purchase have the same attributes as the sample tested by Skyline’s third-party tester.
With regard to the claim that Skyline pepper spray “contains invisible UV dye for assailant verification days after use,” NAD noted that the advertiser submitted no evidence that the dye is visible days after use. Although Skyline submitted an affidavit from its own supplier stating, “Skyline specifically requests that its product ‘Guard Dog’ contain UV dye,” it was unclear how much UV dye the product contained, and whether it contained a sufficient amount to be visible after use or several days after use. Therefore, NAD recommended that the claim be discontinued. NAD stated that should the advertiser, in the future, manufacture a product that it can establish with reliable evidence includes UV dye that can reach an assailant and be visible for days, this decision will not prevent it from making UV dye claims about that new or improved product.
Further, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the express claim that Skyline’s pepper spray can go the “furthest” and “shoots 16 feet,” as well as the implied claim that competitors’ pepper sprays are less effective because they do not shoot as far. NAD determined that Skyline’s in-house testing did not use a sufficient number of product samples from a sufficient number of batches of product to demonstrate that the product, as purchased by consumers, will reach an assailant at 16 feet. NAD also noted that the advertiser did not submit any testing against competing pepper sprays, nor did it submit any documentation concerning the test or its results, or any measures to eliminate bias.
Finally, NAD noted that Skyline submitted no evidence that its pepper spray is capable of 25 bursts and recommended discontinuance of the claim, which appears on packaging for the Military Edition.
In its advertiser’s statement, Skyline stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations and guidance for advertising Guard Dog pepper spray.”