BBB National Programs Archive

Telebrands Participates In ERSP Self-Regulatory Forum

New York, NY – December 3, 2005 – The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) announced that Telebrands . (Telebrands), marketers of the WhiteLight Tooth Whitening System, has substantiated specific general efficacy and comparative claims, and has agreed to modify other comparative and performance-based claims, establishment claims and dramatizations. The marketer’s advertising was reviewed pursuant to a competitive challenge from Thane International, Inc.

ERSP, the electronic direct-response industry’s self-regulatory forum supervised by the National
Advertising Review Council (NARC), reviewed core claims that include:

“Whiter teeth in less than 10 minutes!”
“Works great on stains caused by coffee, tea, smoking, red wine, fruit juice, cola, and aging.”
“WhiteLight uses the same active ingredient used by dentists.” “WhiteLight, it’s like a visit to my office without ever leaving your home!” “…my teeth aren’t sensitive”

The advertising and product packaging include side-by-side photographs purporting to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product after a 10-minute application.

ERSP determined that a study submitted by Telebrands provides adequate support for its core general efficacy, 10-minute whitening claims but does not provide sufficient substantiation for claims that the product is “clinically proven” effective before 10 minutes or for a significant period following product application.

ERSP found that general efficacy claims presented in a non-specific context are adequately supported by the results of a controlled study of the product and trade information included in the record. However, ERSP determined that claims regarding the effectiveness of the product on specific stains are not sufficiently supported.

ERSP recommended the company refrain from making comparative performance claims against other over-the-counter whiteners or professional tooth-whitening treatments, because the record of the review does not include evidence of comparative testing.

Further, ERSP determined that a dentist’s cla im, accompanied by before and after depictions, could be reasonably (and erroneously) interpreted by consumers as a performance comparison with professional treatments. ERSP did agree with the marketer that consumers would not be misled by the same claim if it were made in the context of general statements regarding light- treatment technology and accompanied by pictures of the hand-held WhiteLight device. However, ERSP found that the results depicted in “before and after” photographs may not be representative of typical product performance within the context of a 10-minute application of product.

ERSP determined that the claims that the “WhiteLight system has the light (that) makes (tooth whitening) go quicker” and “there appear to be no photosensitive activators” have been adequately addressed by the marketer. Further, ERSP determined that comparisons to other competitive tooth-whitening products are limited to convenience, ease of use and cost and are not inappropriate in the context communicated. ERSP was satisfied that sensitivity claims made by the marketer are consistent with the results observed in the study.

Telebrands, in its response to ERSP’s findings, said it “… strongly supports the goals of ERSP and appreciates the opportunity to actively participate in the self-regulatory process.”

Telebrands noted that although it disagrees with some of ERSP’s findings, it “nevertheless accepts this decision, and has already begun taking steps to modify its advertising to address ERSP’s concerns.”