NAD Recommends Bobsweep USA Discontinue Certain Claims for Bob PetHair Robotic Vacuum Following iRobot Challenge

New York, NY – May 29, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Bobsweep USA, maker of the Bob PetHair robotic vacuum, discontinue the advertising claims challenged by iRobot, Corp., a competing maker of robotic vacuums.

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

The claims at issue appeared on product packaging, at Amazon.com, and in website advertising for the Bob PetHair vacuum.

NAD examined express claims that included:

  • The Bob PetHair vacuum contains a HEPA filter.
  • The Bob PetHair’s HEPA filter “removes sub-micron particles from the air.”
  • The Bob PetHair “UV sterilizes all types of floors” and the UV lamp “obliterates the harmful germs that come in its path.”
  • The Bob PetHair has the “longest main brush in the industry” that “covers more ground while lifting up more dirt in just a single sweep” and “allows Bob to achieve better results.”
  • The Bob PetHair’s dustbin “is the largest in the industry,” “packs more dirt than any other robotic vacuum’s [dustbin] in the industry,” and has a “capacity . . . far beyond most robot cleaners’ [dustbin capacity].”

NAD also considered whether the vacuum eliminates allergens from carpets and the air and cures allergies.

NAD has addressed the standard for HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in previous decisions, holding that filters must capture 99.97 percent of particles that are 0.3 microns in size and that advertisers cannot rely on assurances from third parties to support product performance claims.

The advertiser in this case submitted a manufacturer’s certificate to support its HEPA filter claims, which NAD found to be insufficient. NAD noted in its decision that the

certificate was silent as to the particle size that was used to determine the filter’s efficiency; without knowing the size of the particles that tested, it is impossible to know whether the filter truly qualifies as a HEPA filter. In addition, NAD wrote, the certificate used language related to a European standard; it was unclear as to whether PetHair filters complied with the HEPA standard. Further, the advertiser did not demonstrate how the filter performs when it is installed in the vacuum. NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that the Bob PetHair robot vacuum contains a HEPA filter and that the filter “removes sub-micron particles from the air.”

The advertiser did not submit testing to demonstrate that use of the PetHair will reduce allergen levels or improve allergy symptoms. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify its advertising to avoid communicating a message that use of the PetHair will result in allergen removal or allergy relief.

In addition, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that the PetHair “UV sterilizes all types of floors” and the UV lamp “obliterates the harmful germs that come in its path.”  As support for the claims, the advertiser relied in part on a report from the Guangdong Detection Center of Microbiology in China, along with calculations and measurements that indicated all viruses and nearly every type of bacteria were within the effective UV-C range of the PetHair at the 99% kill rate. However, NAD noted, when performance claims are at issue, a product’s mechanism of action is an insufficient substitute for competent and reliable product testing to test and verify the sterilizing effect of the PetHair’s UV light.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that the Bob PetHair has the “longest main brush in the industry;” as well as claims that its brush “covers more ground while lifting up more dirt in just a single sweep” and “allows Bob to achieve better results.”

Finally, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue its claims that the Bob PetHair’s dustbin “is the largest in the industry,” “packs more dirt than any other robotic vacuum’s [dustbin] in the industry,” and has a “capacity … far beyond most robot cleaners’ [dustbin capacity].”

Bobsweep, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “agrees to comply with NAD’s recommendations. … Bobsweep plans to conduct further tests in recommended context, and believes context-specific results shall reinforce the evidence Bobsweep has previously presented.”

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.