My law firm picture was taken on a Tuesday morning, but I’ve always lamented that the photographer wasn’t available to take it on a weekend, which would have given me a better opportunity to showcase my Saturday night hair. In case you think that’s something only I worry about, take note that questions related to the ease of creating such an enviable hair style recently made their way into an advertising dispute between Dyson and SharkNinja.
In an infomercial for its Shark HyperAir hair dryer, SharkNinja claimed that “only with Shark Intelligent IQ Stylers can you get Saturday night hair every day of the week.” Dyson argued that the claim was misleading because it suggests that only HyperAir users can routinely achieve styling results that other products’ users can attain only by investing substantially more time. SharkNinja argued that the claim was puffery because “Saturday night hair” is not a measurable attribute and that no reasonable consumer would understand that to be a comparative claim.
As with most cases involving puffery, it’s important to zoom out and consider the claim in context. (Look at the entire hairstyle, rather than the individual hairs, if you will.) During the course of the 30-minute infomercial, SharkNinja makes various comparisons to other hair dryers, including specific references to Dyson’s own Supersonic hair dryer. NAD determined that although “Saturday night hair” may be puffery on its own, in the context of the infomercial, “it conveys a comparative superior performance message because the infomercial states that only the Shark Intelligent IQ Styler can achieve that result.” Accordingly, NAD recommend that SharkNinja modify the claim.
The case covers a lot of ground, but we wanted to start here because this topic – puffery, more so than hair styles – comes up a lot in our conversations with clients. Context is always critical. Phrases that come across as subjective (and thus require no substantiation) when standing on their own can come across as objective (and thus require substantiation) when combined with references to competitors. Hair styles may come and go, but this rule has stood the test of time, so comb through your claims carefully.