Ontel Voluntarily Discontinues Television Commercial for Portable UV-C Light Product Following NAD Inquiry into Implied COVID-19 Messages
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New York, NY – December 22, 2020 – Following an inquiry by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, Ontel Products Corporation discontinued television advertising which conveyed implied messages that its Safe & Healthy portable UV-C light product protects users against COVID-19.
Through its routine monitoring program, NAD challenged the following express and implied claims in a television commercial for the Safe & Healthy product:
- “With all the news about health risks and pandemics, what can you do to protect your family? When germs are everywhere you go and on everything you touch?”
- “Now there’s Safe & Healthy, the powerful UV disinfecting light proven to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria on any surface. Just wave the wand and germs are gone from hundreds of surfaces we touch every day like cellphones and tablets.”
- “Eliminate bacteria from keyboards.”
- “Everything you touch stays germ-free in just seconds. Your kitchen is safer to cook in, your bathroom is cleaner than ever.”
- “Safe & Healthy goes where they (cleaners and wipes) can’t go and does what they can’t do on things you would never spray or wipe with chemicals (image of infant’s highchair shown).”
- “Safe & Healthy is inspired by high-frequency UVC light technology used in hospitals proven to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.”
- Petri dishes shown – one untreated and a dramatization of one treated with Safe & Healthy showing no bacteria after waving it over the dish (“you can clearly see the germs are gone”).
- “Just wave the wand and germs are gone.”
- “Use Safe & Healthy again and again on blankets, upholstered furniture and plush toys.”
- “Keep(s) you protected at home or on the go.”
- “Now everyone in your family can stay safe and healthy.”
- “If you act now, we’ll double the offer, just pay a separate fee.”
- Implied claim that Safe & Healthy can protect users against COVID-19 or novel coronavirus.
- Implied claim that disinfecting sprays and wipes are ineffective in killing viruses and bacteria.
NAD determined that the challenged commercial reasonably conveys the unsupported message that Safe & Healthy can protect users against COVID-19.
Health and safety concerns are a top priority for NAD’s monitoring efforts, with particular attention currently focused on advertising for COVID-19 treatments. Anxious consumers who are frightened or eager to find products to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19 are particularly susceptible to these claims. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have issued dozens of warning letters to companies making claims about their products’ ability to treat or prevent COVID-19.
In its response, the advertiser permanently discontinued the television commercial in question, as well as assured NAD that it would contact third-party retailers and request that they remove any non-compliant claims and advertising for the Safe & Healthy product. NAD appreciates both of these actions.
In its advertiser’s statement, Ontel maintained that “several months prior to the commencement of NAD’s investigation, to provide consumers with enhanced transparency, it had voluntarily discontinued and/or significantly modified” the challenged claims. Nonetheless, Ontel stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s decision in its entirety” and noted that it has “terminated all future media buys for advertisements that contain the claims in question, significantly modified all marketing messages contained on its website for the product, and contacted third-party resellers of the product to request claim removals and updating of media assets.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of BBB National Programs, provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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