BBB National Programs Archive
NAD REVIEWS BISSELL’S ‘OUTCLEAN’ CLAIM FOLLOWING RUG DOCTOR CHALLENGE NAD Considers Use of Colorimetric Measurement
New York, NY – Jan. 18, 2012 -The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business
Bureaus has recommended that Bissell Homecare, Inc., discontinue an “outclean” comparative
advertising claim challenged by Rug Doctor, Inc., or modify the claim to better explain the science
behind the claim.
The sole claim at issue: Bissell’s “Big Green Deep Cleaning Machine” and its “Pro Heat 2X” machine
“outclean’” Rug Doctor’s deep cleaning carpet machine.
In this case, NAD – the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum – examined whether Bissell’s
proprietary testing – Bissell Testing Protocols 59 and 158 – supported its claims to “outclean” Rug
Doctor’s machine. The claims at issue appeared in television, radio, website, direct mail, and pointof-sale advertising by Bissell Homecare, Inc., for the “Big Green Deep Cleaning Machine” and its “Pro
Heat 2X” machine.
Bissell’s protocol relies on spectrophotometry, a measurement of the degree to which light reflects
from a carpet’s surface. The colorimetric measurement, by definition, gauges the carpet fibers’
reflectance – a measurement that can be used as an indirect measure of dirt and debris removal.
The challenger argued that there is no universally accepted standard for measuring the efficacy of
extraction machines and contended that Bissell relied on a controversial draft standard from the
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard that has not been accepted by the
industry. Further, Rug Doctor contended that in recent ASTM committee voting, nearly half of the
ASTM task group participants rejected the draft standard on which Bissell relied.
NAD noted in its decision that Bissell’s protocols are widely used. BTP 59 was recently adopted as
the official testing protocol for the comparison testing of cleaning capability of chemicals used in
carpet wet extraction machines by the Consumer Specialty Products Association.
However, given that cleaning efficacy can be tested in different ways, NAD determined that
consumers are entitled to know the basis of the advertiser’s comparative superiority claim. Following
its review of the evidence in the record,NAD concluded that Bissell’s superior performance under the
widely used colorimetric method served as a reasonable basis for a qualified “outclean” claim.
NAD recommended that the advertiser either modify the claim by clearly and conspicuously
disclosing the fact that the cleaning results are based on measurements of the brightness or
reflectance of the carpet fibers, or discontinue the claim.
Bissell, in its advertiser’s statement, agreed to “modify its advertising for these products consistent
with the NAD’s recommendation. Bissell supports the self-regulatory process and appreciates the
NAD’s careful attention to this matter.”
NAD’s inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising. Details of the initial inquiry, NAD’s decision, and the advertiser’s response will be included in the next NAD/CARU Case Report.
About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation: The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) was formed in 1971. NARC establishes the policies and procedures for the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the CBBB’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP).
The NARC Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the American Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF), American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Its purpose is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation.
NAD, CARU and ERSP are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. Their casework results from competitive challenges from other advertisers, and also from self-monitoring traditional and new media. NARB, the appeals body, is a peer group from which ad-hoc panels are selected to adjudicate NAD/CARU cases that are not resolved at the NAD/CARU level. This unique, self-regulatory system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children’s advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB’s primary source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB. ERSP’s funding is derived from membership in the Electronic Retailing Association. For more information about advertising industry self-regulation, please visit www.narcpartners.org.