BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds GlaxoSmithKline’s Sensodyne Toothpaste “#1 Dentist Recommended Brand” Claims Supported; No Additional Disclosures Necessary

New York, NY – June 14, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has concluded that GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare provided a reasonable basis for its “#1 Dentist Recommended Brand” and “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne” claims for its Sensodyne brand of toothpaste, and that no additional qualification or material information is necessary, following a challenge by Colgate-Palmolive Company, maker of competing sensitive and general toothpaste products.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry‟s system of self-regulation and is administered by BBB National Programs, Inc.

It was undisputed that GSK‟s dentist survey evidence supports its claims that Sensodyne is the “#1 Dentist Recommended Brand” and “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne” for consumers with sensitive teeth. Colgate challenged the claims, arguing that the “dentist recommended” claims fail to limit the dentist recommendation to “tooth sensitivity” or “for sensitive teeth”; and that the “9 out of 10 dentists” claim implies that at least 90% of dentists recommended Sensodyne, irrespective of a specific oral care indication or benefit segment.

NAD concluded that while a “Dentist Recommended” claim for sensitivity/sensitive teeth should generally state the material limitation – for sensitive teeth, clearly and conspicuously in close proximity to the claim it is intended to qualify, this is only true if consumers understand the “Dentist Recommendation” claims as anything beyond a recommendation for sensitivity/sensitive teeth. If no such consumer confusion exists, no additional qualification or material information is “necessary” to qualify the main claim.

GSK submitted two consumer perception surveys to support its argument that the consumer takeaway of the “dentist recommendation” claims, as they appear on packaging, were limited to a recommendation for sensitivity sufferers. NAD found the surveys were reliable and noted that Sensodyne toothpastes hold a distinctive position in the oral care marketplace and product category: its brand and purpose are aligned to exclusively provide products for tooth sensitivity sufferers. NAD determined that, under these unique circumstances, and in light of the reliable consumer perception evidence in the record demonstrating that consumers take away the qualified messages that Sensodyne is the “#1 Dentist Recommended Brand” among sensitivity toothpastes and that “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne” for tooth sensitivity (among sensitivity toothpastes), that the advertiser‟s claims were not misleading.

In its advertiser‟s statement, GSK stated that it is “pleased with NAD‟s agreement that no modification or further qualification of any kind is necessary regarding Sensodyne‟s „#1 Dentist Recommended Brand‟ and „9 out of 10 dentists recommend‟ claims.”Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.