NAD Finds Certain Claims for Optic White Renewal Toothpaste Supported; Colgate to Appeal Recommendation to Discontinue Quantified Stain Removal Claim
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New York, NY – March 11, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that Colgate-Palmolive Company supported advertising claims that its Optic White Renewal Toothpaste has “unprecedented whitening power,” “contains 3% hydrogen peroxide,” and has “the most hydrogen peroxide in a whitening toothpaste.” However, NAD recommended that Colgate discontinue the claim that its product “removes 10 years of yellow stains.” Colgate will appeal that recommendation.
The claims at issue, which appeared on websites, television advertising, and product packaging, were challenged by the Procter and Gamble Company (P&G), a competing manufacturer of toothpaste.
In support of its claim that Optic White Renewal “removes 10 years of yellow stains,” the advertiser relied on three studies that it sponsored. Of those three, NAD determined that the advertiser’s 2018 clinical study, which sought to measure the efficacy of Optic White Renewal at removing stains from teeth, was a reliable measure of the reduction of yellow tooth staining and that a second study included the necessary indicia of reliability. However, NAD had concerns about the fact that, in developing its claim from the study results, Colgate failed to consider the results of the negative control when formulating its claim.
NAD found that accounting for the control would have led to a claim that better reflects the results consumers could expect from the product in real-world usage.
Further, NAD had concerns about one of Colgate’s other studies seeking to establish a rate of age-related tooth yellowing. Presented as an abstract, the study concluded that each unit of YIO correlated to 1.1 years of yellowing. However, NAD was unable to assess the reliability of this study’s conversion of YIO measurements to “years of yellow staining,” and as a result could not rely on Colgate’s conversion of its clinical study results as support for its “10 years” claim. Accordingly, NAD recommended that the advertiser’s claim that Optic White Renewal “removes 10 years of yellow stains” be discontinued.
NAD determined that the advertiser’s “3% hydrogen peroxide” claim is substantiated. Based on its review of the evidence, NAD found that the studies submitted by Colgate were reliable and amount to a reasonable basis for the claim. NAD was further persuaded by the results of Colgate’s own tests of three toothpastes with the same May 2021 expiration date, each of which contained approximately 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Regarding Colgate’s “unprecedented whitening power” claim, NAD found that it is self-referential and that reasonable consumers would not understand “unprecedented” to mean that Colgate’s product was superior at whitening to all other toothpaste products or whitening products on the market. Read in context, according to NAD, Colgate is conveying the message to consumers that it has improved upon its own prior toothpastes and that this is its best toothpaste to date. There was no dispute that Optic White Renewal contains the most whitening power of any of Colgate’s own toothpastes.
Finally, NAD determined that the advertiser’s claim that Optic White Renewal has “the most hydrogen peroxide in a whitening toothpaste” is substantiated. Although P&G argued that its Crest Pro-Health HD and Crest 3D White Brilliance 2-Step are also formulated with 3% hydrogen peroxide, NAD found that these are not both “toothpastes,” but are two-step products that contain two, separate tubes. One tube, which does not contain hydrogen peroxide, is identified as a “toothpaste”; the other is labeled as a “whitening finisher” or “whitening gel” and contains no cleaning agents. Moreover, NAD did not believe that consumers would reasonably interpret a superiority claim about whitening toothpaste to be making a comparison to two-step systems requiring two separate applications of different products and two separate brushing steps.
In its advertiser statement, Colgate stated that it “strongly disagrees” with NAD’s recommendation relating to Colgate’s “removes 10 years of yellow stains” claim and will appeal that portion of the decision. Such appeals are made to the National Advertising Review Board, the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.
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About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.
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