P&G Will Appeal NAD’s Recommendation to Discontinue Use of #1 Claim for Oral-B Interdental Picks

For Immediate Release 

Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs, 301.412.7769 / ahills@bbbnp.org

 

New York, NY – June 16, 2020 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) recommended that the Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) discontinue a “#1” claim in its advertising for Oral-B interdental picks. This claim, which appeared on product packaging, free-standing inserts, and online point of purchase advertising and product descriptions was challenged by Sunstar Americas, Inc. (Sunstar), manufacturer of the competing brand of GUM interdental picks. P&G said it will appeal this adverse finding to the National Advertising Review Board. 

At issue for NAD was whether P&G’s prominent “#1” shield on packaging of Oral-B interdental picks reasonably conveyed an unsupported message that Oral-B is the #1 interdental pick brand, either in sales or the most recommended. In reviewing the challenged claim, NAD noted that the upper half of the Oral-B interdental picks package includes a shield with the Oral-B logo and a prominent “#1” within the shield. The “#1” shield appears in a much larger size, in a different color, and in a bolder and more prominent font relative to the separate language next to the shield which reads, “From the makers of the #1 dentist recommended floss brand,” in English and then in French. In that portion of the packaging, the only other wording presented in large font is “Precision Clean Interdental Picks Porte-Soie Interdentaire.”  

Although P&G contended that it is accurately making a #1 recommended claim on products in the same class of goods (i.e., dental floss and interdental picks) and that “from the makers of” simply highlights its history and reputation, NAD determined that the “#1” shield as it appears reasonably conveys an unsupported message that Oral-B dental picks are #1 with respect to sales, dentist recommendations, or both. NAD noted that standing alone, the “#1” shield is reasonably interpreted as a reference to the product inside the package, interdental picks. Moreover, even when “from the makers of the #1 dentist recommended floss brand” is read in conjunction with the “#1” shield, consumers may not interpret that language as limiting the “#1” shield to a message about Oral-B’s dental floss. Therefore, NAD recommended that P&G discontinue the “#1” claim in its advertising for Oral-B interdental picks. NAD noted, however, that nothing in its decision precludes P&G from making truthful and not misleading claims about the brand position of Oral-B dental floss. 

In this proceeding, Sunstar also challenged the claim that Oral-B interdental picks are “Designed 50% stronger versus a leading interdental pick” and a French translation of the claim, which appeared immediately under the English text. P&G advised NAD that, for unrelated business reasons, it decided to stop making these claims. In reliance on P&G’s representation that it would permanently discontinue the claim, NAD did not review the “50% stronger” claim on the merits.  

In its advertiser’s statement, P&G stated that it “respectfully disagrees with NAD’s findings and will appeal this decision” because it “believes that the challenged claim ‘From the makers of the #1 dentist recommended floss brand’ is truthful and supported by the evidence, and that NAD’s decision is inconsistent with the evidence in the record and with NAD precedent. P&G appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self-regulatory process and looks forward to resolving this matter with the National Advertising Review Board.” 

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About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD), a division of 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.     

About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. This independent, non-profit organization enhances trust, innovation, and competition in the marketplace through the development and delivery of cost-effective, third-party self-regulation, dispute resolution, and accountability programs. BBB National Programs’ 10 leading industry self-regulation and dispute resolution programs resolve business issues of national and international importance, and fosters industry best practices in truth-in-advertising, child-directed marketing, data privacy, and dispute resolution. To learn more about industry self-regulation, visit bbbprograms.org.   

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