NAD Finds Some Crest Whitening Emulsions Claims Supported, Recommends Others Be Retired or Modified

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In another decision involving teeth whitening claims, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) substantiated claims that its Crest Whitening Emulsions provides “better” or “100% whiter” results and that it “whitens better” than P&G’s own ARC Teeth Whitening 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. The claims were challenged by Smile Direct Club LLC.

Crest Whitening Emulsions is a new entrant in 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. The instructions recommend that the user not eat or drink for 30 minutes after applying the product. However, unlike whitening strips and other gels on the market, there is no rinsing, brushing or removal of the gel involved.

The claims that Crest Whitening Emulsions provides “100% whiter” and “better” results were based on a comparison to P&G’s ARC pen. The NAD reviewed P&G’s substantiation that evaluated the whitening benefits of Crest Whitening Emulsions over the ARC pen and found that it showed statistically significant benefits and demonstrated that the whitening measurement translated to “noticeability.” The NAD therefore concluded that P&G 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.

However, the NAD also found that, in some ads, the comparison to the ARC pen was not clear and conspicuous, and recommended that P&G correct this by either incorporating the object of the comparison into the main claim or adding a disclosure in a similar font size and in immediate proximity to the claim it qualifies.

The NAD found that the claim that Crest Whitening Emulsions is “faster” than the ARC pen was substantiated, but recommended the claim be modified to avoid conveying a faster application message and be limited to the supported claim that meaningful consumer whitening benefits were achieved “faster” than with the ARC pen.

The NAD also recommended that P&G discontinue its claims “Best in Class Results,” “starts working instantly,” “get a whiter smile in seconds” and “stays on 10x longer.” The NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue or modify its “stops stains before they set in” claim to more accurately reflect that the product reverses existing staining and avoid any implication that it prevents “stains” from common teeth-staining compounds from “setting in.”

With respect to the “Best in Class Results” claim, the NAD noted it has recognized in past cases that the claim “Best in Class” connotes a comparative win over an advertiser’s competition with respect to the particular attribute being touted by the claim. The NAD determined that 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. The NAD noted that although 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 teeth whitening applications. The NAD determined that P&G could not define the product as being in a “class of one” and then make a “Best in Class Results” claim.

The NAD also found that P&G provided a reasonable basis for its “virtually no sensitivity” claim.

In its advertiser statement, P&G stated that it disagreed that certain claims were not adequately substantiated but agreed to comply with the NAD’s decision.

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