National Advertising Division Recommends Oral Essentials Discontinue Certain Comparative Claims for Lumineux Whitening Strips and Pen
New York, NY – February 16, 2023 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Oral Essentials, Inc. discontinue claims that its Lumineux Whitening Strips and Pen are “clinically proven to whiten teeth as well as the leading brand” and that it does so “without the harm associated with bleaches.” NAD was acting on a challenge brought by the Procter & Gamble Company (P&G).
Both parties market and sell teeth whitening strips and pens: Oral Essentials under its Lumineux brand and P&G under its Crest and ARC brands. P&G’s challenge focused on Lumineux marketing, which sought to highlight a key point of differentiation between the whitening products – that P&G’s products use hydrogen peroxide as the tooth bleaching agent, whereas Oral Essentials’ products do not.
NAD found that the claim that the Lumineux product is “clinically proven to whiten teeth as well as the leading brand” conveys the comparative message that Lumineux whitening strips whiten teeth as well as Crest Whitestrips, and that the Lumineux whitening pen whitens teeth as well as the leading whitening pen brand, and that this parity of product efficacy is clinically proven.
NAD noted that Oral Essentials has made substantial investments in over 60 clinical and laboratory studies in support of its products, and after reviewing the evidence NAD concluded that the clinically proven claim was not substantiated and recommended that it be discontinued.
NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes Oral Essentials from making monadic claims about the teeth whitening efficacy of Lumineux whitening strips and pens for which it has adequate support.
Though an advertiser has a right to make truthful and accurate advertising claims that may be at the expense of its competitors, such claims must be accurate and narrowly drawn. This obligation is especially important for claims that a competitor’s product causes harm, since “harm” has a powerful effect on consumers.
NAD determined that the claim that Lumineux products whiten teeth as well as the leading brand but “without the harm associated with bleaches” reasonably conveys:
- The message that tooth sensitivity that can be experienced with peroxide-based tooth whiteners and that tooth sensitivity, as a harm, is an unsafe or damaging condition; and
- A stronger message that Lumineux whitening strips and pens are safer than other teeth whitening products because they do not damage tooth enamel (and that whitening products that use peroxide bleaching agents, such as Crest Whitestrips, do).
NAD determined that Oral Essentials did not provide a reasonable basis of support for either of these messages conveyed by the challenged claim and recommended that they be discontinued.
NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes Oral Essentials from making claims about tooth sensitivity or gum irritation for which it has adequate support.
In its advertiser statement, Oral Essentials stated that although it “respectfully disagrees with NAD’s decision . . . as a strong supporter of the self-regulatory process, Oral Essentials, Inc. will modify its advertising in accordance with NAD’s recommendations.”
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