Colgate and GSK at each other’s throats again as Sensodyne ads are banned

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Advertising

Colgate and GSK at each other’s throats again as Sensodyne ads are banned
Colgate Palmolive and GlaxoSmithKline are at loggerheads again; this time the former has accused GSK of making misleading claims in its Sensodyne toothpaste advertising.

Colgate made three complaints over 6 TV and magazine adverts for Sensodyne’s Rapid Relief toothpaste to the Advertising Standards Authority, of which two were upheld.

Colgate challenged whether the claims that the product ‘works in 60 seconds’ in the TV and magazine ads could be substantiated, and also whether the claim ‘Rapid ... relief from the pain of sensitive teeth" in some of the ads could be substantiated.

Evidence provided

GSK said two clinical studies had been conducted to support the claims, one of which (Mason et al.) had been published in the peer reviewed Journal of Clinical Dentistry​ and one of which was being prepared for publication.

In addition, they provided an independent assessment that asserted the robustness of the Mason et al. study, which concluded that their toothpaste provided significant reductions in dentin hyper-sensitivity immediately after topical application and after three-day brushing.

ASA acknowledged that the evidence provided showed that the product reduced tooth sensitivity and the TV ad was allowed as it displayed the on-screen message ‘individual results may vary’.

Claims not clear

However, the advertising watchdog took issue with the magazine adverts as they were not so clear with claims.

“Because the extent to which the product reduced sensitivity varied significantly amongst the participants, we considered the ads should make clear that individual results would vary,”​ said an ASA statement.

“Because the ads did not make that clear, we considered they implied the same level of efficacy for all consumers. Because that was not the case, we concluded the ads were misleading.”

As a result, the TV ad was allowed to stand, but the magazine adverts were banned from appearing again in their current form.

The battle continues…

It is the latest in the line of advertising complaints made by the two toothpaste titans against each other’s products, both in the UK and in the US.

Late last year, GSK complained to ASA about Colgate’s Sensitive Pro-Relief toothpaste​ adverts being misleading; a claim ASA agreed with and banned the press, TV and website ads of.

In the US four months later, GSK made another complaint to the National Advertising Division​ over the same product, after Colgate made claims that it directly works faster than its competitor’s Sensodyne product.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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