ERSP Finds Purple Innovation, LLC Can Support Certain Claims for Purple Mattresses; Recommends Marketer Modify, Discontinue Other Claims

New York, NY – August 30, 2018 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has found that Purple Innovation, LLC can support certain claims for Purple Mattresses, but recommended the marketer modify or discontinue other claims.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to an anonymous challenge.

ERSP reviewed website and online video advertising claims for Purple and identified several claims for review, including:

  • “It’s designed to not only help you get better sleep, but to soothe joints, release pressure on the hips and shoulders, and support the neck and back. It’s designed to make bedtime the highlight of your day!”
  • “Most memory foam mattress are cheaply made under questionable conditions with questionable materials”
  • “A full night’s sleep without tossing and turning, over-heating, or off-gassing”
  • “Proudly Made in the USA” and “Handcrafted in the U.S.A.”
  • “Purple is made from non-toxic, food grade material. Memory foam contains VOCs and other chemicals.”

The challenger alleged that Purple claims that its technology gives consumers a three-fold benefit: (i) while other mattresses cause pain and discomfort, numb arms, tingling fingers, aching shoulders, and sore backs, Purple Mattresses alleviate pain; (ii) while other mattresses erode and sag, Purple Mattresses never break down; and (iii) while other mattresses “sleep hot,” Purple Mattresses allow consumers to sleep better because they are “temperature neutral” and thus cooler than all other mattresses. The challenger also pointed to several instances in which the videos featured on the website imply that the tests performed in such videos are legitimate scientific testing and that scientific professionals have evaluated and sanctioned such claims.

At the outset of this matter, Purple informed ERSP that it had voluntary discontinued several of the advertising claims that were the subject of the inquiry including the statement that “Most memory foam mattress are cheaply made under questionable conditions with questionable materials” and the blog post entitled “How 117 People Reduced Pain and Got Better Sleep With Purple.”

As support for the claims at issue, the marketer provided ERSP with clinical studies conducted on the technology used in Purple Mattresses. While ERSP determined that the studies were not adequate to support comparative representations versus other mattresses, it concluded that the data combined with the research materials the marketer submitted into the case record did provide sufficient support for a general claim regarding the design intentions of the Purple mattress and its gel component. As such, although ERSP determined that the marketer’s monadic claims that Purple mattresses were “designed” to provide better sleep, soothe joints, release pressure on the hips and shoulders, and support the neck and back, and “A full night’s sleep without tossing and turning, over-heating, or off-gassing” were not inaccurate, it recommended that the marketer discontinue or modify claims either expressly stating or implying that the Purple mattress will “relieve all your pressure points….”

After reviewing the evidence in the case record, ERSP determined that the marketer’s testing did not support a number of core performance claims that would be interpreted by consumers as unqualified superiority claims against all other mattress systems. In addition, ERSP determined that the advertising at issue communicated a number of unsupported disparaging claims against competitive mattress systems but also concluded that the statements that “many …suffer more than they need to, because their mattresses are uncomfortable” and that “98% memory foam is still 98% crap” would be interpreted as puffery and the boastful opinion of the advertiser.

ERSP additionally determined that although the marketer’s durability testing would be insufficient to substantiate claims that the Purple mattress “never breaks down” and won’t breakdown “over 25+ years of use,” it was also determined that the testing did provide support for a monadic claim of the long-term (i.e., 10 years) durability of Purple mattresses.

Regarding the product demonstrations used in the online commercials, ERSP concluded that although the tests would not be interpreted by consumers as reliable scientific tests, the tests served as comparative product demonstrations and depicted as real proof of product performance and that there was not sufficient information provided to assure that the demonstrations produced reliable, reproducible depictions of product performance of the competitive mattress systems being compared.

Lastly, ERSP determined that the marketer provided a reasonable basis for its “Made in the USA” claim.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “Purple agrees to add appropriate disclaimers to the product demonstrations and will modify where possible. Purple agrees to discontinue the testimonial as recommended herein. Purple agrees to discontinue all written comparative superiority claims as recommended….”