NAD Recommends Pyle Audio Disclose that Online Consumer Reviews for NutriChef Vacuum Sealers Are Incentivized

New York, NY – August 15, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Pyle Audio, Inc. take reasonable measures to discontinue or modify currently posted online reviews for NutriChef Vacuum Sealer to include a clear and conspicuous disclosure that the reviews are incentivized, and that Pyle take reasonable measures to disclose the material connection between the reviewer and Pyle should it offer incentives to product purchasers in exchange for posting reviews. The challenge was brought to the attention of the NAD by Newell Brands, Inc., a maker of competing vacuum sealers.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB NP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

The challenger contended that Pyle improperly solicited reviews of Pyle’s NutriChef products by encouraging users of its NutriChef products to write positive reviews in exchange for free product, while failing to disclose that the reviews are incentivized. The challenger further argued that Pyle does not instruct consumers to disclose in the review that they received free product from Pyle, nor has Pyle undertaken any disclosure efforts itself. The challenger alleged that Pyle’s review program resulted in thousands of reviews being posted on Amazon, where NutriChef is primarily sold.  Whereas, Pyle denied that it, rather than third party sellers, is responsible for the distribution of the solicitation cards promoting the review campaign, which are included in the shipment package when a consumers orders and receives a NutriChef vacuum sealer. 

Incentivized reviews may be considered endorsements that require the disclosure of any material connection not reasonably anticipated by the consumer. NAD noted that consumers may be misled by incentivized reviews when such reviews appear to be entirely spontaneous posts from consumers who post them solely out of a desire to share their experiences with a product may have in fact been motivated, in whole or in part, by a desire to receive a tangible benefit.  Systematic incentivization of reviews can earn significant additional visibility for a product, which can itself further drive purchasing decisions.  As a result, consumers may see a distorted image of a brand’s reputation and the aggregate level of consumer interest in and satisfaction with the product.

NAD determined  that, in the absence of any disclosure that there is a material connection between Pyle and the consumer posting the review (i.e. that Pyle promised free product or an unspecified “reward” to purchasers who post reviews), consumers reading the reviews are left with the mistaken impression that the reviews have been spontaneously posted on third party retail platforms.  Therefore, NAD recommended that Pyle take reasonable measures to have the existence of the material connection between the reviewer and Pyle clearly and conspicuously disclosed should it offer incentives to product purchasers in exchange for posting reviews. With respect to incentivized reviews currently posted by product purchasers, NAD further recommended that Pyle take reasonable measures to have those reviews taken down or modify them to include a clear and conspicuous disclosure that the consumer who posted the review received something of value from Pyle (i.e., free product).

Finally, NAD determined that one of the messages reasonably conveyed in Pyle’s review solicitations is that consumers must post a positive review to be eligible to receive something from Pyle.  NAD recommended that, in any future solicitations, Pyle invite consumers to leave a review in exchange for a reward, without language that suggests a positive review is necessary to receive a reward. In its advertiser’s statement, Pyle stated that it agrees to comply with NAD’s decision.