National Advertising Division Finds ACCO Brands’ Coronavirus and COVID-19 Elimination Claims Substantiated with Modified Testing Disclosure
New York, NY – February 2, 2023 – Following an inquiry by the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, ACCO Brands USA, LLC modified the disclosure used in connection with a health-related efficacy claim on the ACCO Brands website that its TruSens Air Purifier is “effective at eliminating 99.9% of the airborne coronavirus or COVID-19” to clarify the material limitations of the claim, which NAD found was supported as qualified.
Through its routine monitoring program, NAD challenged the claim that:
“TruSens eliminates 99.99% of airborne coronavirus*” (*Results from independent third-party testing using aerosolized airborne concentration of human coronavirus 229E over a two-hour period in a sealed chamber. HCoV-299e is a well-established surrogate for SARS-CoV-2) next to a picture of SARS-CoV-2 virus being filtered through the TruSens device.
NAD’s inquiry focused on whether consumers who viewed the advertiser’s website would reasonably take away the message that the TruSens Air Purifier is effective in killing 99.99% of SARS-CoV-2 virus without seeing the disclosure that testing of the product was on a coronavirus surrogate.
Health and safety concerns are a top priority for NAD’s monitoring efforts, with particular attention focused on express or implied claims that advertised products can protect consumers against COVID-19. Claims as to the efficacy of air purifiers against SARS-CoV-2 during an ongoing pandemic are especially impactful because consumers cannot verify the truthfulness of such claims for themselves.
During the proceeding, the advertiser modified the disclosure to state: “Results from independent third-party testing using HCoV-229E, a human coronavirus with similar shape and size to COVID-19, which was aerosolized over a two-hour period in a sealed chamber. HCoV-229E is a well-established surrogate for COVID-19.”
NAD determined that ACCO Brands’ testing provided a reasonable basis for the challenged claim, “TruSens eliminates 99.99% of airborne coronavirus” together with a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the material limitations of the claim (testing on a surrogate and length of time to achieve the result) in similar size, text, and font in close proximity to the claim. NAD also found that ACCO Brands products effectively filter SARS-Cov-2, providing additional support for the advertiser’s claim that “TruSens Air Purifier is effective at eliminating 99.99% of airborne coronavirus or COVID-19.”
In its advertiser statement, ACCO Brands thanked NAD for “its careful and professional review of the substantiation for TruSens’ claim to eliminate 99.99% of airborne coronavirus” and stated that it “will clarify the disclosures accompanying the claim in keeping with the recommendations expressed in NAD’s decision.”
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About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.