NAD Recommends SharkNinja Discontinue Certain Claims Challenged by Dyson, Including ‘2-to-1’ Preference Claim

New York, NY – May 9, 2016 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that SharkNinja Operating, LLC, discontinue the unsupported preference claim that “Americans now choose Shark 2-to-1 over Dyson.”

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 advertiser’s claims were challenged before NAD by Dyson, Inc., the maker of competing products. Dyson challenged express and implied claims that included:

  •  “It’s no wonder Americans now choose Shark 2-to-1 over Dyson.”
  • Newly-released products in Shark’s Powered Lift–Away family are “5-star rated.”
  • The Shark Rocket Powerhead weighs “only 9 pounds.”
  • The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away (as well as the Shark Rocket Powerhead) and Dyson’s Cinetic Big Ball offer the same “no loss of suction technology.”

Key to NAD’s decision was its analysis of the challenged 2-to-1 claim, which appeared in broadcast advertising and was accompanied by the disclosure “Unit Sales of Upright Vacuums” for the period “6/14-5/15.”

Dyson contended that the claim was a preference claim that could not be supported by sales data alone.  Shark maintained that its use of the word “choose” conveyed to consumers that the claim was based on sales volume and that even if consumers took away a preference message, total sales could be used to support the claim because the basis was made clear.

Neither party presented consumer-perception evidence.

Following its review, NAD determined that one of the messages reasonably conveyed was that consumers prefer Shark vacuums over Dyson vacuums – a preference message that went beyond sales superiority.

NAD then considered whether the sales data offered by Shark as support for the claim was sufficient.  NAD noted in its decision that while it has considered sales data offered by advertisers as one element in determining whether there is adequate support for preference claims, in this case Shark’s claim obscured the fact that the comparison was based purely on sales.   NAD recommended that Shark discontinue the claim that “Americans now choose Shark 2-to-1 over Dyson.”

NAD noted, however, that nothing in its decision precluded Shark from making a comparative claim based on unit sales, provided that such a claim was accurate and did not imply a head-to-head preference.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD also cautioned Shark against the practice of claiming that its products are “5-Star Rated” before obtaining the necessary support, but nonetheless determined that Shark had provided a reasonable basis for its “5-Star Rated” claims.

With regard to a product demonstration that compared the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away and Dyson Ball Multi-Floor, NAD recommended that the identified “dust cup” sequence be discontinued.

With regard to the product packaging for Shark’s Rocket Powerhead vacuum, NAD recommended that Shark modify its packaging to more clearly convey that the depicted demonstration was performed on stuck-on dust (as opposed to the broad category of all types of “dust & loose debris”), and to make clear that the stuck-on dust comparison is limited to one specific Dyson vacuum – the Cinetic Big Ball.

Finally, NAD recommended that, to avoid the potential for consumer confusion, Shark modify its head-to-head stuck-on dust cleaning demonstration in the Rocket Powerhead commercial by changing the references from “Dyson” to “Dyson Cinetic Big Ball.”

NAD recommended that Shark discontinue its claims that the Rocket Powerhead vacuum weighs “only 9 pounds,” or modify it to make expressly clear, as part of the main claim itself, the conditions under which this weight is achieved (e.g., “only 9 pounds without the cord and onboard tools”).

SharkNinja, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “will comply with NAD’s recommendations in its future advertising.”

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.