BBB National Programs Archive

P&G, Colgate Palmolive Participate In NAD Forum

New York, NY – May 18, 2007 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that Procter & Gamble provided a reasonable basis for some advertising claims made for its Crest Pro-Health toothpaste. NAD recommended, however, that the company modify some claims, including claims that suggest Crest Pro-Health toothpaste is recommended by dentists.

Procter & Gamble has said it intends to appeal the NAD decision, in part, to the National Advertising Review Board.

Advertising claims for Crest Pro-Health were challenged by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the maker of competing products. NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined advertising claims that appeared at in-store displays, on packaging and coupons and in print, broadcast and on a Website. 

Claims at issue included: The following claims formed the basis of this inquiry:

  • Provides dentist recommended benefits.
  • Crest Pro-Health has received the ADA seal of acceptance for certain specified benefits
  • Reduces plaque.
  • Whitens teeth.
  • Uses a Polyflourite System consisting of antibacterial fluoride and ActivClean Crystals.
  • Product Research; Over 70 publications & research presentations.
  • Dentifrices containing stabilized stannous fluoride have been shown to provide significant antigingivitis protection. Stannous fluoride has bactericidal and bacteriostatic activity to both kill bacteria and inhibit the re-growth of new bacteria for at least twelve hours.
  • Provides superior cavity protection compared to a standard sodium fluoride toothpaste.

The challenger took issue with print advertising that depicts a sheet of note paper that bears the ADA seal and lists seven benefits, including “fights tartar” and “freshens breath. The challenger contended that this (and another similar advertisement) misleadingly implies that Crest Pro-Health has been ADA approved for, among other indications, fighting tartar and freshening breath.

As a preliminary matter, NAD observed that Crest Pro-Health is a new toothpaste that combines sodium hexametaphosphate and stannous fluoride. Further, NAD noted that this formulation offers a significant array of benefits.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD determined that the packaging claim “provides dentist recommended benefits,” conveys the unsupported message that Crest Pro-Health is a “dentist recommended” product.  NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim. NAD further determined that challenged print advertising and television commercials do not convey a “dentist recommended” claim.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser either discontinue an advertisement depicting the checklist of benefits under the American Dentistry Association seal, or modify the claim  to avoid conveying the message that Crest Pro-Health is ADA accepted for the indications of fighting tartar or freshening breath.

NAD determined that the advertiser provided adequate evidence to support the claims that Crest Pro-Health reduces plaque and whitens teeth, as well as the claim that Crest Pro-Health both kills bacteria and inhibits the re-growth of new bacteria for at least 12 hours.

NAD further determined that the statement “[u]ses a Polyflourite System consisting of antibacterial fluoride and ActivClean Crystals” does not communicate a message that the toothpaste contains multiple kinds of fluoride. NAD did, however, recommend that the advertiser modify its claim that Crest Pro-Health “product research” was supported by “over 70 publications & research presentations” to make it clear that not all of the research was conducted on the product itself.

Finally, NAD determined that the advertiser should either discontinue its caries reduction claim or modify it to make clear that it was testing on an early prototype.

P&G, in its advertiser’s statement, requested a referral to the NARB to appeal NAD’s decision that the “dentist recommended benefits” claim communicates that the Crest Pro-Health product itself is dentist recommended and “that the image of a notepad bearing the ADA Seal and a list of Crest Pro-Health’s seven ADA-approved indications inevitably communicates that Crest Pro-Health has the ADA Seal of Acceptance for each of the seven benefits.”

P&G noted further that although it disagrees with NAD’s decision regarding the Website claims that “Crest Pro-Health product research is supported by over 70 publications & research presentations,” it will modify the advertising.