National Advertising Division Finds Certain Claims for Crest Whitening Emulsions Supported; Recommends Discontinuation or Modification of Others
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New York, NY – June 8, 2021 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) provided a reasonable basis for claims that its Crest Whitening Emulsions provide “better” or “100% whiter” results and that it “whitens better” than P&G’s own ARC Pen, but recommended that P&G modify its advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the object of its comparative claims is the ARC Pen. NAD also found that P&G provided a reasonable basis for its “virtually no sensitivity” claim.
Further, NAD recommended that P&G modify the claims “faster” and “5x active peroxide droplets suspended in a hydrating base to whiten teeth,” discontinue or modify the claim “stops stains before they set in,” and discontinue the claims:
- “Best in Class results”
- “Starts working instantly”
- “Get a whiter smile in seconds”
- “Stays on 10x longer”
- “Delivers 5x more active hydrogen peroxide compared to other whitening gels and pens”
The claims at issue, which appeared on product packaging, and in television, internet, and social media advertisements, were challenged by SmileDirectClub LLC.
P&G’s Crest Whitening Emulsions is a new entrant into the teeth whitening category. The Crest Whitening Emulsions kit is comprised of a hydrogen peroxide gel (contained in a tube) and a separate applicator wand. Using the wand, the consumer applies the gel to each tooth. Unlike whitening strips and other gels on the market, there is no rinsing, brushing, or removal of the gel.
With respect to the claims that Crest Whitening Emulsions provide “100% whiter,” “faster,” and “better” results (or “whitens better”), NAD noted that in certain iterations of the challenged advertising, the disclosure limiting the claim to a comparison to a single product, the ARC Pen, is not clear and conspicuous. Therefore, NAD recommended that P&G modify its advertising to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the object of its comparative claims is the ARC Pen, by either incorporating this information into the main claim or through a disclosure in a similar font size and in immediate proximity to the claim it qualifies.
Based on a review of the advertiser’s evidence that evaluated the whitening benefits of Crest Whitening Emulsions over the ARC Pen and demonstrated that the whitening measurement of Crest Whitening Emulsions translated to “noticeability,” NAD concluded that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for claims that Crest Whitening Emulsions provides “better” or “100% whiter” results and that it “whitens better” than the ARC Pen.
NAD determined that the advertiser’s “faster” claim, in the context in which it appears with other product performance claims, would not reasonably be understood by consumers to convey a message about the application and wear time of the product. However, NAD noted that in other contexts, the term may convey an application speed message. NAD cautioned the advertiser to avoid conveying that message, as it is not supported by the evidence in the record.
NAD recommended that the claim “Best in Class Results” be discontinued because neither the underlying clinical study results nor the fact that the product employs a new patented technology provides a reasonable basis for the superior whitening results message reasonably conveyed by the claim. NAD noted that while Crest Whitening Emulsions’ innovative formula and delivery system may speak to its unique technology among other whitening products on the market, there is no evidence that P&G’s definition of this “class of one” is consistent with consumers understanding of the “class” of tooth whitening applications.
After reviewing the advertiser’s meta-analysis of clinical whitening trials, NAD determined that it was sufficiently reliable to provide a reasonable basis for its “virtually no sensitivity” claim.
However, regarding its quantified claim that Crest Whitening Emulsions stays on teeth “10x Longer” than paint-on gels, like the ARC Pen, NAD concluded that the study summary provided by P&G in support of the claim was insufficiently reliable. Therefore, NAD recommended that the “stays on 10x longer” claim be discontinued.
NAD also recommended that P&G discontinue its “starts working instantly” and “get a whiter smile in seconds” claims. NAD noted that the consumers viewing a claim that a product “starts working instantly” or “in seconds” reasonably anticipate they will see noticeable benefits shortly after use of a product, if not immediately – a message that was not supported by the evidence.
Further, NAD determined that consumers would reasonably interpret P&G’s “stops stains before they set in” claim not as a statement about Crest Whitening Emulsions’ ability to remove existing staining, but as a claim that it can prevent future stains. The evidence presented did not demonstrate that Crest Whitening Emulsions acts as a barrier to stop or prevent new stains from setting in, particularly extrinsic stains from non-age-related sources. Therefore, NAD recommended that P&G discontinue or modify its “stops stains before they set in” claim to more accurately reflect that Emulsions reverses existing staining and avoid any implication that Crest Whitening Emulsions prevents stains from common teeth staining compounds from setting in.
NAD recommended that P&G discontinue the claim “delivers 5x more active hydrogen peroxide compared to other whitening gels and pens” as it conveys the unsupported message that the advertised product has more hydrogen peroxide than competing products in the marketplace.
Finally, NAD determined that if the claim “5x active peroxide droplets suspended in a hydrating base to whiten teeth” is modified to make clear that this comparison is to the ARC Pen, the claim is supported.
In its advertiser statement, P&G stated that it “agrees to comply with NAD’s decision.” The advertiser further stated that it “disagrees with NAD’s conclusion that certain claims were not adequately supported but as a strong supporter of self-regulation, we agree to comply with the NAD’s decision.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) 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.