NAD Finds Trampoline Maker’s ‘Review Site’ Misleading, Recommends JumpSport Discontinue Performance, Ratings Claims

New York, NY – Aug. 10, 2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that JumpSport, Inc., a maker of trampolines and the operator of the website TrampolineSafety.com, discontinue the site’s editorial format.  NAD found that the site, owned by JumpSport, is inherently misleading, given that it does not effectively disclose JumpSport’s material connection. NAD further recommended that the company discontinue certain performance and safety claims. The claims at issue in this case were challenged before NAD   by Vuly Trampolines Pty. Ltd., a competing maker of trampolines.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD noted in its decision that JumpSport has participated in establishing ASTM trampoline- related industry safety standards over the last 20 years and further recognized that JumpSport has extensive experience in the trampoline industry, including product design, engineering and patented innovation.

However, NAD noted, the website TrampolineSafety.com is unbranded and clearly conveys the inaccurate message that it is run by an independent unbiased party.

However, all tests featured at the site were conducted in-house by the advertiser and reviews and ratings were established by the advertiser. And, as NAD noted in its decision “not surprisingly, the top three ranked trampolines belong to the advertiser.”

NAD determined there was nothing at the site to effectively alert consumers to the fact that they were viewing an advertisement, and also that the disclosures on the site were insufficient to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the site is owned by JumpSport and that the product testing was designed and conducted by JumpSport.

NAD considered but was not persuaded by the advertiser’s argument that its disclosures cured the false impression created by the site’s format. Disclosures, NAD noted, cannot contradict the main message of the advertisement – in this case, that the listed trampolines have been tested and rated by independent experts. Further, NAD noted, even if a disclosure could cure the false impression, the advertiser’s disclosures were not clear and conspicuous.

NAD next considered whether the advertiser’s evidence was sufficient to support its trampoline safety and performance claims. NAD has routinely held that claims that expressly or implicitly disparage a competing product must be truthful, accurate and narrowly drawn. Here, NAD determined that the advertiser’s testing methodology did not include protocols consistent with reliable testing methodologies. Similarly, NAD questioned the relevance and reliability of the 49 data points used by the advertiser to determine the reviews and ratings for each trampoline.  Although the advertiser provided information that included a description of each test, its methodology, and the test results, and a description for each data point, the descriptions did not sufficiently explain what standards were being applied.

NAD determined that the advertiser’s testing and methodology were not sufficiently reliable to support its comparative safety and performance claims, or its ratings of Vuly’s Thunder trampoline, its own trampolines or any of the other trampolines tested. NAD recommended that such claims be discontinued.

NAD determined that the advertiser’s “World’s Safest Trampolines,” “the safest, highest quality trampolines available at every budget,” and “First in Safety” claims were not puffery and, given the absence of any reliable substantiation, should be discontinued. The advertiser may, however, advertise its patent in trampoline safety technology.

Finally, NAD noted that it appreciated the advertiser’s voluntary permanent discontinuance of the “Consumer rated number one for safety, performance & play value” claim. The voluntarily discontinued claim will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended their discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

JumpSport, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company was disappointed with certain of NAD’s findings, but noted that “is grateful for NAD’s work, supports the self-regulatory process, and will abide by NAD’s recommendations,” and that it “will continue its founding commitment to help protect children from needless injuries on trampolines … .”

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.