Colgate ad banned for claiming toothpaste can 'repair teeth instantly'

Spot must not be shown again after ASA ruled it would fail to meet viewers' expectations.

A Colgate ad has been banned after making the bold claim that its toothpaste "repairs teeth instantly".

The 20-second spot, created by VMLY&R and broadcast in August, attracted six complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority that the claim was misleading.

The ad opens in black and white with a row of people brushing their teeth, with a voiceover saying: "Are you on autopilot when it comes to sensitive teeth, using a toothpaste that just numbs the pain? Switch to Colgate Sensitive Repair & Prevent. It repairs teeth instantly and helps strengthen gums, preventing sensitivity."

Colgate-Palmolive UK told the ASA that the claim was made for sensitivity toothpaste and believed it was clear from the context that it referred to repairing of teeth in order to relieve pain caused by sensitivity.

The FMCG giant added that the toothpaste delivered a surface coating that acted as a reparative layer on the enamel surface and filled microscopic cracks in the enamel. It also provided four clinical studies and CE certification documents in support of the claim.

However, the ASA upheld the complaints because it did not consider a product that provided relief against sensitivity would match viewers’ likely expectations that there would be a restorative effect on the teeth after using the product.

In its ruling today, the ASA said: "We had seen no evidence that the product was able to regenerate enamel that had worn away, restore receding gums or consequently that teeth had been immediately restored to a healthy condition through use of the product.

"Because the ad implied that the product had a restorative effect on sensitive teeth and that was not the case, we concluded that the claim ‘repairs teeth instantly' was misleading and had not been substantiated."

The ASA told Colgate not to show the ad again in its current form.

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