Recently, under the National Advertising Division (NAD), Colgate-Palmolive Company (Colgate) brought a challenge against GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSK) for its “#1 Dentist Recommended Brand” and “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne” claims. More specifically, Colgate argued that the challenged claims failed to limit the dentist recommendation to “tooth sensitivity” or “for sensitive teeth” and that the “9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne” claim implied that 90% of dentists recommended Sensodyne, irrespective of an oral care segment. GSK submitted two consumer perception surveys to the panel which showed that when consumers view the claims at issue as they appear on the packaging, that they believed such claims were limited to a recommendation for tooth sensitivity sufferers. NAD held that the surveys were reliable and noted that the Sensodyne toothpaste brand and purpose is aligned exclusively with products for tooth sensitivity. Accordingly, the NAD found that in light of the unique circumstances, and reliable survey evidence, that GSK’s claims were not misleading and therefore did not require modification of further qualification of any kind.
Advertising claims, like the one put forth by Sensodyne, can be an extremely effective marketing tool. However, these claims must be substantiated based on “competent and reliable scientific evidence” to support the claim. Failure to do so may lead to costly legal challenges. Therefore, before making any claims relating to consumer attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors, advertisers should explore whether a claim substantiation survey is warranted.
To learn more about claim substantiation or false advertising surveys, and how they can be submitted and accepted as evidence at the NAD, please contact us.