DETROIT The Hoover Company has been referred by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus to the Federal Trade Commission over an ad for its Fusion vacuum cleaner.
NAD claims that Hoover, owned by Whirlpool, has failed to address a claim that the Fusion experiences "no loss of suction" in some of its ads. That claim was disputed in a 2005 complaint from Dyson, a Hoover competitor that produces a model in the same segment as the Fusion.
NAD, an oversight board, asked Hoover to amend that assertion after reviewing the ads, which ran in several formats including print, broadcast and on the Internet. The claim was also made in packaging.
Hoover instead subsequently added a clause to its ads reading, "Vacuum Cleaner Suction Tests Do Not Represent Carpet Cleaning Ability." Meanwhile, third-party promotional copy for the Fusion continues to assert Hoover's claim. A Fusion ad that ran on the Wal-Mart Web site includes the copy: "This bagless machine never loses suction."
"Rather than discontinue the claim, the advertiser sought to qualify it with that amended statement," a NAD rep said. "The disclosure contradicts the message conveyed by the claim."
Whirlpool did not return calls.
In its compliance decision, the NAD said "during its original review of the evidence, NAD determined then that the 'no loss of suction' claim is a broad performance claim that reasonably communicates to consumers that the Fusion cleaner will not lose suction when they use the product in their homes and over time."
In a previous investigation, NAD found that the claim "was not adequately substantiated and recommended the claim be discontinued," the decision said. After failing to do that in accordance with the NAD standards, the claim has been moved to the FTC.
Dyson and Hoover have battled before over suction claims. In 1998, Hoover contested a Dyson ad in Great Britain in which Dyson stated that "only one cleaner has no loss of suction," that one being made by Dyson. The Independent Television Commission, which was then the U.K.'s commercial TV regulator, upheld Hoover's claim.
In May, Whirlpool announced that it was seeking a buyer for Hoover, an ailing brand that has suffered from poor earnings.