A TV ad for Oral B, seen on 27 September 2017, promoted the Oral B GoPro toothbrush. The ad featured a woman asking her dentist for advice on different toothbrushes. The voice-over stated, “I asked my dentist which cleans better - an electric toothbrush or a manual one? She said definitely electric but don’t just get anyone, get one inspired by dentists … Oral B, the number one dentist recommended brand worldwide.”
The complainant challenged whether the claim “number one dentist recommended brand worldwide” was misleading and could be substantiated.
Procter & Gamble (Health & Beauty Care) Ltd said that they monitored the global leadership of the Oral-B brand regularly by conducting new surveys across all regions of the globe. They said that they had surveyed dentists in over 50 countries around the world for the past ten years and responses showed that Oral-B led in toothbrush recommendations by dentists over other toothbrush brands.
Procter & Gamble said that at the time the ad was aired, a total of 5157 dentists from 22 countries representing all regions of the world, were surveyed between October 2015 and June 2017. They said the dentists in those countries represented an estimated 72% of dentists worldwide (approximately 1,285,860 out of 1,784,046 total dentists). They said that they used data from the World Health Organization to estimate the number of dentists in each country to obtain a global dentist count. They said that to ensure global representation in their surveys, the countries surveyed represented the majority of dentists in the world and that the dentists were geographically dispersed so that all regions of the world were represented.
Procter & Gamble said the survey results were weighted by the size of the dentist population in all geographies that were surveyed, to calculate a global score. They said that once per year, the survey data from the previous two years were used to compute the weighted shares and data more than two years old was removed from the data set and no longer used in the calculations.
Procter & Gamble said the surveys were carried out by independent research agencies in each of the listed countries who recruited the respondents. They said that respondents were not aware that Procter & Gamble were the sponsors of the survey. They said that in each country, dentists were interviewed in person, online or by using computer assisted telephone interviewing. They explained that the online panels were recruited using a multi-modal methodology by invitation based on directories, web presence and referrals. They said that all interviews conducted via telephone or in person, were recruited using directories or lists to identify dentists. They confirmed that all panellists were screened and subject to a verification process via telephone, email or fax.
Procter & Gamble said that the global use and recommendation shares were calculated by rolling up the country samples. To calculate each brand’s global score, the percentage of dentists recommending a specific brand was multiplied by the number of dentists in that country recommending that brand.
Procter & Gamble said that the results showed that Oral-B led in toothbrush recommendations over the next closest competitors. The differences between Oral-B and the closest competitive brands were statistically significant at a confidence level of 95%. They provided a letter of attestation from an independent research provider which confirmed that the data was robust and able to substantiate the claim.
Clearcast said that they approved the claim on the basis that they had received evidence which showed that Oral-B had surveyed dentists worldwide. The surveys asked dentists which brands of toothbrushes they would recommend to their patients and the results showed that Oral-B led in toothbrush recommendations over their closest competitors.
The ASA noted that the ad featured a patient asking her dentist about which type of toothbrush cleans better. The voice-over stated, “… definitely electric but don’t just get any one, get one inspired by dentists.” In that context, we considered that viewers would understand the claim “Oral B, the number one dentist recommended brand worldwide” to mean that more dentists worldwide had recommended Oral B as their preferred brand of electric toothbrush than any other electric toothbrush.
We acknowledged that the sample size of 5157 dentists from each region of the globe, with the dentists in those regions representing 72% of dentists worldwide, was sufficiently robust.
We understood that there were different recruitment approaches for each country. Some dentists were recruited using the official directories whereas others were selected using online panels or internet searches. We noted that Procter & Gamble said that the same respondents were not used year to year and that the dentists in the surveys had no financial or other relationship with Oral-B.
The interviews were conducted blinded, and participants were asked various open ended questions about their toothbrush recommendations and ratings. The relevant question about electric toothbrush recommendations asked “What are all of the brands of electric rechargeable toothbrushes the dentists usually recommended to their patients”. Participants were given a list of different brands and asked to select all of the brand options that applied. The results showed that 22% of dentists selected Oral-B as one of their recommended brands which was 6.8 percentage points higher than the next most popular brand. We considered that the results demonstrated that Oral-B was the most selected option by dentists and therefore was the number one recommended brand worldwide.
Because the evidence supplied showed that Oral-B was the most recommended brand of electric toothbrush over any other brand worldwide, we concluded that the claim had been substantiated and was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. 2). (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.33 3.33 Advertisements that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, consumers about either the advertised product or service or the competing product or service. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.