A TV ad and an ad on Aquafresh UK's YouTube channel, for Aquafresh Sugar Acid Protection toothpaste:
a. The TV ad included visuals that showed a bar of chocolate, a doughnut and several granola clusters moving rapidly towards Captain Aquafresh who defended himself against those items. A slice of white bread was shown to creep up behind Captain Aquafresh who noticed it in the reflection of a large spoon. A voice-over stated, "Sugar is everywhere". Captain Aquafresh then threw the spoon at the slice of bread which pierced it. The slice of bread was shown to collapse to the floor. The voice-over then stated, "Strengthen and actively defend teeth from everyday sugars". Captain Aquafresh was shown to catch an ice cream before licking it.
b. The ad that appeared on the Aquafresh UK's YouTube channel featured a voice-over that stated, "In a world that's under attack from sugar and more sugar and even more sugar comes a new hero in oral care he's in the right place at the right time." The voice-over was echoed in on-screen text. Accompanying visuals showed clusters of granola, a doughnut, an ice cream and a slice of white bread moving towards the character Captain Aquafresh. The visuals then showed a bar of chocolate, a doughnut and several granola clusters moving rapidly towards Captain Aquafresh who defended himself against those items. The accompanying voice-over stated, "Will sugar meet its match?" The ad then showed Captain Aquafresh and the voice-over stated, "Introducing Captain Aquafresh." A slice of white bread was shown to creep up behind Captain Aquafresh who noticed it in the reflection of a large spoon. Captain Aquafresh then threw the spoon at the slice of bread which pierced it. The slice of bread was shown to collapse to the floor.
The Federation of Bakers challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that white bread was high in sugar.
GlaxoSmithKline UK Ltd (GSK) said the ad was intended to communicate the message that a variety of products were associated with tooth decay, not just those which contained added sugars. They acknowledged that sliced white bread in the UK contained little or no added sugar and only a small amount of sugars that were naturally formed during the baking process. However, they said that sliced white bread was rich in processed starch, which had been cooked during the baking process. They said that starch could be metabolised into short-chain sugars by enzymes in the saliva and plaque. Those sugars could be used by plaque bacteria to generate acids, lowering the pH level at the tooth surface until the enamel surface started to dissolve. They believed it was established that consumption of white bread was linked to incidence of tooth decay and provided evidence that they believed supported that.
Clearcast believed ad (a) conveyed a general message that a range of foods could be harmful to teeth and did not suggest individual products were high in sugar, only that they contained sugar. They said bread was included in the ad to highlight that 'sugar is everywhere', because it is not a product normally associated with sugar. They pointed out that cereal was also included in the ad and was not a product associated with sugar.
The ASA understood that sliced white bread in the UK contained little or no added sugar, but that it could contribute to tooth decay. The ads presented a range of food products and made clear that Aquafresh Sugar Acid Protection toothpaste could protect teeth from the sugars present within those products. However, they did not identify white bread as a product that was high in sugar. We considered consumers would understand the ads to mean that the toothpaste could protect teeth from the sugars found in the food products depicted in the ads. We therefore considered the ads did not imply that white bread was high in sugar and were not likely to mislead consumers into taking a transactional decision that they would otherwise not have taken in relation to Aquafresh Sugar Acid Protection toothpaste. On that basis, we concluded that the ads did not breach the Code.
We investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and ad (b) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) but did not find them to be in breach.
No further action necessary.