NAD Recommends SharkNinja Discontinue ‘Better/Best Overall’ Bare Floor Cleaning Claims for Shark ‘Powered Lift-Away’ Vacuum Following Dyson Challenge

New York, NY – April 27, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that SharkNinja LLC discontinue claims that the company’s Powered Lift-Away Speed vacuum offers best or better overall bare floor cleaning, following NAD’s finding that SharkNinja’s testing was not a good fit for the challenged claim.

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, featured in infomercial, packaging, and website advertising, were challenged by Dyson, Inc., and included:

  • The Powered Lift-Away Speed offers “Better Overall Bare Floor Cleaning” than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball.
  • The Powered Lift-Away Speed is the “Best Overall Bare Floor Cleaning Upright.”
  • The Powered Lift-Away Speed “on hard floors . . . gives you better overall bare floor cleaning than any upright you can buy.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising implied that the Powered Lift-Away Speed cleans bare floors better than Dyson vacuums (or any other upright vacuum) as established under the relevant industry test or whether, because the Powered Lift-Away Speed delivers “more pure, raw suction at the hose than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball,” Shark’s product cleans floors better than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball.

The key issue before NAD with respect to the advertiser’s better/best claims was whether it was appropriate for the advertiser to deviate from an industry standard test method for measuring the hard surface floor-cleaning ability of household/commercial vacuum cleaners.

The industry standard test protocol – ASTM 2607 – is designed to show how vacuum cleaners operate on a specific formula of dirt and debris. Shark modified the formula by adding Cheerios to represent large debris and then used a proprietary Bare Floor and Edge Test to test vacuum performance along the perimeter of a room. Shark then tested pick-up on tile flooring with grout, a floor surface that was chosen on the recommendations of the Floor Covering Institute. For each of the tested models, Shark calculated a geometric mean across three performance metrics to obtain an aggregated measurement to support its “overall” claim.

NAD determined, however, that a reasonable consumer would expect strong “overall” claims to be based on an independent industry measure and not on averaging various metrics. NAD noted that Shark’s proprietary testing might support more narrowly-tailored claims than the “overall” claim that was before NAD in this challenge.

The ASTM F2607 is the standard for measuring the hard surface floor-cleaning ability of household/commercial vacuum cleaners and it has been in force, and heavily relied on, for over a decade. NAD considered but was not persuaded by the advertiser’s argument that consumers would not fully understand the relevant ASTM standard, but NAD determined that the issue was not whether consumers would understand the particulars of ASTM standards, but whether they would expect a broad superiority claim to be based on industry standard testing.

NAD recommended that Shark discontinue claims that the Powered Lift-Away Speed offers “Better Overall Bare Floor Cleaning” than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball, the Powered Lift-Away Speed is the “Best Overall Bare Floor Cleaning Upright,” and the Powered Lift-Away Speed “on hard floors … gives you better overall bare floor cleaning than any upright you can buy.”
NAD noted that nothing in this decision precludes Shark from making claims based on its proprietary testing, but said that such claims should be carefully crafted and expressly limited to avoid conveying the unsupported message that the Powered Lift-Away cleans bare floors better than competing vacuums according to recognized industry measures of vacuum cleaning performance.

NAD recommended that the claim “more pure, raw suction at the hose than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball” as it appears in Shark’s infomercial be discontinued or modified to avoid conveying the unsupported message that because the Powered Lift-Away delivers “more pure, raw suction at the hose than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball,” it is able to clean floors better than the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball.

NAD found that the suction claims on the advertiser’s product packaging and website were not linked to a floor-cleaning benefit and NAD therefore did not recommend any modifications to the advertiser’s product packaging or website.

Finally, NAD recommended that Shark discontinue the physician’s statements regarding allergy symptom relief.

SharkNinja in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “respectfully disagrees that the reasonable consumer takeaway of its ‘better overall bare floor cleaning’ claims is that such claims are necessarily based on industry standard tests.  Although SharkNinja believes that each of its claims were adequately qualified and supported, it agrees to update its messaging in accordance with NAD’s recommendations.”

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.