New York, NY – August 8, 2023 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising body of BBB National Programs, recommended that SharkNinja Operating, LLC modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for its Shark Stratos Powered Lift-Away upright vacuum. The claims relate to its “superior hair pick-up ability and odor neutralizing technology.”
Following an earlier decision by the National Advertising Division (NAD) (Case No. 7151), Shark appealed NAD’s recommendations to modify or discontinue the challenged advertising claims which appear in Shark’s 30-minute infomercial for the Stratos vacuum. The advertising at issue had been challenged by Dyson, Inc., maker of competing vacuum cleaners.
Best Hair Pickup Claims
In agreement with NAD, the NARB panel concluded that Shark’s testing against competitive vacuum cleaners did not support its category superiority claims to have the “best hair pick-up of any vacuum.” Rejecting Shark’s argument that it was reasonable for the advertiser to have limited the testing to upright brands that the advertiser claimed “specialize” in hair pickup, NARB found that the tests were inadequate because they evaluated less than 3% of all upright vacuum cleaner unit sales and also that the test methodology relied on was not acceptable in that it only tested pet hair.
Therefore, the NARB panel recommended Shark modify its advertising to avoid conveying the unsupported messages that the Stratos offers:
- “The best hair pickup of any vacuum,”
- “The best hair pickup of any upright vacuum in America,” and
- “The most hair pickup from floor to dust cup of any vacuum in America.”
Odor Neutralizing Claims
The NARB panel also found that Shark’s infomercial conveys messages that all odors have been eliminated.
The NARB panel determined that the express claim that “Shark solves [the problem of vacuum odor] with a new and unique breakthrough odor neutralizer technology. This technology interacts with odor-causing particles and transforms the bad odors into fresh-smelling air. It’s so powerful, it continues to work month after month after month for long-lasting odor control” is unsupported and recommended that it be discontinued.
Further, the NARB panel agreed with NAD and found the demonstration shown in Shark’s infomercial in which several blindfolded consumers are shown evaluating the odor being emitted by the Stratos and two competitive vacuum models is unsupported.
The NARB panel also concluded that NAD properly recommended that Shark discontinue:
- The implied claim that the Stratos reduced odor even when the cleaner head is not attached, and
- The statement that the Stratos featured “a new and unique breakthrough odor neutralizer technology.”
Finally, the NARB panel adopted NAD’s recommendations to discontinue the following implied odor reduction messages conveyed in the infomercial:
- Most consumers prefer the smell of the Stratos’ exhaust to that of the Bissell Powerforce Helix and the Dyson Ball Animal 2.
- Most consumers find the Stratos’ exhaust to be affirmatively pleasant-smelling, whereas the same majority finds the Bissell Powerforce Helix’s and the Dyson Ball Animal 2’s exhausts to be affirmatively unpleasant smelling.
- The “smell test” demonstration in Shark’s Stratos infomercial reflects the results of a robust and statistically significant study of representative consumers.
- The Stratos’ “odor neutralizer” cartridge captures odor-carrying particles, or otherwise completely removes their offending odors, such that no unpleasant odors or unpleasant-smelling particles will travel farther into the vacuum.
- The Stratos’ “odor neutralizer technology” is effective at preventing unpleasant odors from spreading through or escaping the Stratos, regardless of the vacuum’s cleaning mode or configuration, including when the product is used without its cleaner head.
In the alternative, the NARB panel recommended that Shark modify the claims to reflect the supported message that the Shark Stratos’ odor neutralization technology reduces malodor.
Shark stated that it “is a strong supporter of voluntary industry self-regulation and agrees to comply with NARB’s Recommendations.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Review Board (NARB): The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the appellate body for BBB National Programs’ advertising self-regulatory programs. NARB’s panel members include 85 distinguished volunteer professionals from the national advertising industry, agencies, and public members, such as academics and former members of the public sector. NARB serves as a layer of independent industry peer review that helps engender trust and compliance in NAD, CARU, and DSSRC matters.