ERSP Finds ZAP! Products Can Support Certain Claims for ‘ZAP! Professional Restorer,’ Recommends Marketer Modify Certain Claims

New York, NY – Feb. 22, 2017 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has determined that ZAP! Products, Inc. can support certain general performance claims for ZAP! Professional Restorer, 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 its ongoing monitoring program.

ERSP reviewed online and broadcast advertising claims for ZAP! and identified several claims for review, including:

  • “It’s a Remodel in Every Bottle!”; “Restores Surfaces Like New!”; “Why replace it when you can restore it?”; “The professional strength restorer that’s guaranteed to make porcelain, fiberglass, tile and grout, and real metals, like brass, copper and cast iron, all look brand new again or your money back.”
  • “Removes any stain from porcelain, tile & grout, fiberglass, real metals”; “[Removes] Hard Water Stains, Calcium Buildup, Rust, Lime Scale, Soap Film, Dirt”
  • “ZAP! is a restorer, not a cleaner.  Most cleaners only work on surface dirt, but ZAP! actually penetrates stains to restore surfaces to their original, new shine.”; “Unlike regular cleaners that only remove top level dirt and grime, ZAP!,  penetrates stains to restore surfaces to look like new.”
  • “My bathtub was looking horrible and disgusting. I was actually going to replace it and it was going to cost me $2000. But I tried the ZAP!, sprayed it on, scrubbed it off and it was like new again.”

During the initial stages of ERSP’s inquiry, the marketer voluntarily agreed to modify several of its advertised claims. For the purposes of this review, ERSP considered the marketer’s modified language in its analysis of the ZAP! advertisement.

As support for the performance claims at issue, the marketer provided ERSP with third-party testing which evaluated the cleaning efficacy of ZAP! Restorer.

In its decision, ERSP noted that the testing submitted by the advertiser did demonstrate that the product was effective in removing stains from porcelain, tile, fiberglass, and grout. ERSP was concerned, however, that the net impression conveyed by the advertising varied depending upon the context in which the term “restore” was communicated. ERSP concluded that that the test results did not support the marketer’s implied performance claim that cleaning surfaces with ZAP! is equivalent to having your bathroom or kitchen surfaces replaced or professionally restored or restored to their original condition. ERSP further determined that the marketer’s money-back guarantee would not create a performance expectation in the minds of consumers.

Following its review, ERSP determined the advertiser could support claims for the product’s general efficacy, as well as claims that the product will effectively remove mud, rust, soap scum, and hard water stains from porcelain, tile, fiberglass and unsanded grout and remove mud, soap scum, and hard water from brass, iron and copper. ERSP found also found that the advertiser could support claims related to “Calcium Buildup” and “Lime Scale.”

However, ERSP concluded that the claim “[r]emoves virtually any stain” claim conveyed the unsupported message that ZAP! works on an almost limitless number of stains. ERSP recommended that the marketer modify advertising that communicates ZAP! works in minutes (unless that is true and substantiated for the particular stain), removes stains in three simple steps, and that it clearly and conspicuously disclose that scrubbing is required to clean most surfaces.

ERSP did not object to consumer testimonials that discussed the general efficacy of ZAP!, but it also concluded that by expressly communicating a savings cost by using the product as compared to a complete restoration of bathroom surface, several of the consumer testimonials potentially overstate the cleaning results that could be expected by consumers.

The company, in its marketer’s statement, said, “While ZAP is disappointed and disagrees with ERSP’s concerns regarding some of the alleged implied claims in the advertising, ZAP respects the self-regulatory process and will take ERSP’s concerns into consideration in future advertising.”