BBB National Programs Archive


New York, NY – April 10, 2012 – The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Colgate-Palmolive Company modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste, including claims that the product works faster than Sensodyne, made by challenger GlaxoSmithKline. Both Colgate and GSK are seeking to appeal certain of NAD’s findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined claims in broadcast advertising and print advertising directed to oral care professionals. Claims at issue included:

  • “Gets to the nerve faster for long-lasting relief”
  • “a clinically proven formula that works fast, within 2 weeks, to provide relief to the nerve and builds a protective shield to help prevent painful sensitivity flare-ups when used as directed.”
  • “Provides faster acting* and long-lasting relief with regular use.”
  • [* vs. a leading potassium nitrate toothpaste]
  • “Faster to the nerve* for Lasting Relief,” together with a pixilated, facial silhouette in profile of a man drinking a glass of ice water (the “Blue Man”), thanks to the apparently instant and complete relief provided by this newly-launched product.
  • “FASTER & LONG-LASTING Hypersensitivity relief”*
  • “*Faster vs. Sensodyne toothpaste. Within 2 weeks. Based on clinical studies. Lasting relief with continued use.”
  • “Part of a new treatment solution for dentin hypersensitivity”
  • “Rushes to the nerve for faster relief. Superior formula delivers potassium nitrate to the nerve more quickly for faster relief.”

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the advertising at issue did not convey the message that Colgate’s product provides immediate or instant relief and NAD determined the advertiser could support stand-alone claims that the product is effective.

However, NAD determined that the evidence in the record did not support Colgate’s claims that its toothpaste works “faster” than Sensodyne to relieve pain and recommended that the advertiser discontinue “faster” claims – including both general claims to be faster and quantified claims that appear in advertising directed to professionals.

NAD recommended that Colgate either discontinue the broadcast advertising at issue, or modify the advertising to ensure that it no longer conveys the unsupported “faster” message, as well as the claim that the product is  “clinically proven better” than the leading sensitivity toothpaste.

With respect to the advertising directed to professionals, NAD recommended that Colgate either discontinue its “over 30% more relief… at 2 weeks” and “29% more relief… at 8 weeks” claims, or that modify these claims by clearly disclosing that the  results were only seen in one of two test methods. Finally, NAD recommended that Colgate either discontinue the graphs that are shown in the professional advertisement, or modify them such that the scales do not visually exaggerate the differences between the products.

GSK is seeking to appeal a portion of NAD’s decision regarding Colgate’s use of the percentage differentials in materials directed to a professional audience.

Colgate, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company would appeal NAD’s findings that Colgate had insufficient support for certain superiority claims for Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief vs. Sensodyne, as well as NAD’s rejection of Colgate’s time-to-improvement analysis.

Colgate noted that it “continues to be a strong supporter of the NAD self-regulatory process.”