BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Reviews Advertising for P&G’s Crest ‘Sensi-Stop Strips’ following Challenge by GlaxoSmithKline

New York, NY – April 23,  2015 – The National Advertising Division has determined that the Proctor & Gamble Co., can support certain claims for the company’s “Crest Sensi-Stop Strips” product, which is designed to address tooth sensitivity. However, NAD has recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “1 Strip, 10 minutes, 1 month” and modify product packaging to clearly disclose that a single strip may not provide complete relief to some consumers.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

In this case, the advertising at issue was challenged by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

In its challenge, GSKCH explained that tooth sensitivity, technically known as dentin hypersensitivity, develops as receding gums or worn enamel expose dentin. Dentin contains thousands of microscopic channels (called tubules) that are connected to nerves in a tooth.  When the tubules are exposed, the nerves become susceptible to triggers such as cold or hot food and drinks at the surface of the dentin causing short, sharp pain.

GSKCH noted in its challenge that treatment for tooth sensitivity generally falls into two categories – the use of toothpastes formulated with potassium nitrate to desensitize the nerves over a period of regular use, or the application of products formulated to block exposed tubules – the method used in Crest Sensi-Stop Strips.

Challenged claims included:

  • “Crest Sensi-Stop Strips”
  • “A Breakthrough Way to Help Stop Sensitivity”
  • “Immediate Relief”
  • “Up to 1 Month Protection”
  • “Get Sensitivity Relief Like Never Before”

NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that the Crest product “stops” sensitivity or provides better sensitivity relief than any other product previously available and whether a single treatment would stop sensitivity and provide consumers with immediate pain relief that lasts one month.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD determined that the advertiser had supported with competent and reliable evidence its claims that Crest Sensi-Stop Strips provide “immediate relief.” NAD determined that the four  clinical studies, including studies establishing the effectiveness of the product when patient applied, together with an in vitro study establishing its mechanism of action, provided support for the “up to 30 days” claim.  NAD recommended, however, that the disclosure used to qualify the “up to 30 days” claim, “others reported relief for shorter periods” be made more clear and conspicuous and in close proximity to the claim it qualifies.

NAD determined that the claims, a “Breakthrough way to help stop sensitivity” and “Get sensitivity relief like never before” in the context in which they were conveyed made clear that it is the product delivery method that is innovative. As a result, NAD found the advertiser could support the claims.

NAD did not recommend that the name “Crest Sensi-Stop Strip” be changed, but was concerned that the messages conveyed by the claim, “1 Strip, 10 minutes, 1 month,” on the product website and television commercials, could not be effectively limited by a disclosure.

Disclosures can be used only to limit the message of a claim and cannot contradict the main message.   NAD determined that the claim, “1 strip, 10 minutes, 1 month,” taken together, conveyed a message of instantaneous and complete relief, and any disclosure that additional applications of the product might be necessary for additional relief would contradict that message.

NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim “1 Strip, 10 minutes, 1 month” and recommended that product packaging and other advertising be modified to disclose that a single strip may not provide complete relief and that consumers may need more than one strip for additional relief.

P&G, in its advertiser’s statement, said while the company has “concerns with the NAD’s conclusions regarding the ‘1 strip, 10 minutes, up to 1 month’ claim, we will take the NAD’s recommendation into consideration for future advertising.”