P&G attacks Colgate advert over toothpaste whitening claims

ASA rules ad is in breach of exaggerating toothpaste's whitening effect

Colgate-Palmolive is at the centre of another Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) complaint, this time lodged by P&G.

A website ad for the Colgate Max White One Optic toothpaste was pulled up by P&G, which complained to the ASA over four points to do with some of the text and voiceovers.

One point concerned the ad’s reference to claims that the toothpaste can instantly make teeth “much whiter”.

On this point, Colgate-Palmolive explained that optic brightening strips in the toothpaste’s formula dissolve during brushing and bind to the teeth, which cause a whitening effect. It also referenced a consumer research survey, in which 58% of consumers surveyed said the product made their teeth visibly whiter.

However, the ASA was not won over by this explanation and Colgate-Palmolive’s other supporting points. The ASA said: “we considered consumers would interpret the claims that using the product would result in “instantly whiter” teeth to mean that their teeth would immediately appear noticeably whiter. We further considered that in the context in which it appeared the claim “much whiter” would also be understood to relate to the product’s instant whitening effect. However, we considered that consumers would interpret the claim “much whiter” as a stronger claim than the other claims – that teeth would appear very significantly whiter.”

It concluded that the claim “much whiter” would be misleading to consumers and that the ad therefore breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

The ASA ruled that the ad must not exaggerate claims or run in its current form again.

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