A TV ad for denture fixative showed a computer-generated image of a partial denture slotting into a gap between lower teeth, while a woman balanced on the denture. The woman stated, "If you wear a denture, make this simple test: press your tongue against it, like this." A tongue moved the denture on which she was standing causing her to become unsteady. She then said "It moves, do you feel it? It can happen with many dentures. It's annoying, but you don't have to bear with it - you can try Fixodent." A second denture with the word "Fixodent" underneath was then shown settling into a gap between teeth, and the word became a fixative holding the denture to the gum. The woman said, "Thanks to its formula, your gums become one with your denture, so it reduces movement of the denture and you forget about it" and took a bite of an apple. A voice-over stated "Try Fixodent - it gives you 10 time stronger hold. Fixodent - life with more bite" while a package shot and the captions "10x stronger hold" and “Life with more bite" were displayed.
During the latter part of the ad, on-screen text stated, "Vs. no adhesive. In lab tests product displays 10x increase in bite force 3 hours after product application".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading because they felt that the scene in which a woman bit into an apple exaggerated the efficacy of the product.
Procter & Gamble UK stated that they had carried out a clinical study to substantiate the claim that Fixodent Dual Power gave up to 10-times stronger hold than with no adhesive, and provided a table demonstrating the mean increase in bite force after application to fair to poorly-fitting upper dentures every two hours up to 13 hours, along with a description of the trial in which these results were obtained. This table stated that the mean increase in bite force after three hours was 10 times the force with no adhesive, and the accompanying description of the study stated that an increase in bite force indirectly indicated an increase in retention and stability because the maximum interocclusal force would be equivalent to the force required to dislodge the denture. Procter & Gamble asserted that the study demonstrated that the product delivered clear benefits by enhancing resistance to movement.
Procter & Gamble stated that, in order to calculate the bite force obtained by the subjects in this study, they had added the baseline bite force to the mean improvement for each two-hour period, and converted the result into Newtons. Using this method, they calculated the total peak bite force and the total minimum bite force achieved across the time period of the study, and provided us with this data.
They stated that denture adhesives such as Fixodent are designed to increase the hold of dentures, reduce denture movement and cushion the gums. They said that denture adhesives also help to prevent slipping when eating and speaking, and help users feel more confident that their dentures will not be noticeable to others. They also stated that the benefits of denture adhesives were well established and it was widely recognised that they significantly improve retention and stability of dentures Procter & Gamble stated that adhesives decrease denture movement, which allows users to bite more strongly and increases the level of confidence and comfort.
Procter & Gamble stated that their ad aimed to show that the product could provide comfort and help give consumers the confidence they needed to take on everyday life. They asserted that the ad claimed the product would significantly improve denture hold and bring more stability, which they considered was a well-recognised benefit of using a denture adhesive. They stated that the apple in the ad illustrated that message, and showed that the product would enable denture users to feel more confident in carrying out normal day to day tasks. They stated their belief that the illustration was not misleading and did not exaggerate the efficacy of the product.
Procter & Gamble provided two further studies which they asserted demonstrated that the use of denture adhesives would stabilise dentures sufficiently to allow consumers to eat an apple in the manner shown in the ad. The first study estimated the bite force required to incise a variety of foods, including an apple. The study concluded that a bite force of between 40 N and 50 N (4.1 kg to 5.1 kg) was required to incise an apple, and that this range was independent of an individual's ability to generate bite force. The study also mentioned that the approximate force required to dislodge a full upper denture without adhesive was between 1.2 and 2 kg and that the threshold of the force required to incise foods, including an apple, was above this point.
The second study examined whether denture adhesive increased the stability of full upper dentures during chewing, swallowing and speaking, and whether bite force was also increased. The study noted that the increases in both stability and bite force were statistically significant, and concluded in part that the use of a dental adhesive enabled users to generate significantly greater levels of bite force. This study referred to the previous one and, noting that bite forces rose to a maximum of 54 N, stated that on the basis of those estimates the increases in bite force ability achieved by use of an adhesive crossed the threshold required to incise hard foods, including an apple.
Clearcast stated that they endorsed Procter & Gamble’s response. They said that their dentistry consultant had reviewed the evidence and the story board, and was happy with the script. Clearcast felt that the shot of the actress biting the apple was a realistic visual illustration of how the product worked, based on the evidence they had seen of product efficacy and the experience of product users. They did not consider that the imagery was misleading. They stated that their dentistry consultant considered that the evidence supplied supported the claim "10 times stronger hold" because bite force was said to be indirectly related to the retention of the denture.
The ASA noted Procter & Gamble’s view that the apple imagery was used to show confidence in the carrying-out of day to day tasks whilst using dentures, and that it did not exaggerate the efficacy of the product. We also noted that Clearcast considered that the image was a realistic depiction of the product's efficacy and the experience of users. We considered that the presentation of the apple imagery, placed after a graphical representation of applying the product, was likely to imply to consumers that it could be possible for some denture-wearers to eat an apple in the manner depicted by the actress if they used the product. As such, we required evidence that use of the product could enable denture wearers to eat an apple.
The ASA noted that the first study submitted by Procter & Gamble demonstrated that use of the product could increase bite strength to a force within the estimated range required to bite an apple as determined by the second study. We also noted that the third study demonstrated that an increase in bite force was related to the stability of dentures, as the bite force generated by participants was greater when using a fixative that gave greater stability. We understood from the first study that the maximum bite force given by those with dentures before the dentures dislodged would indicate the force that was required to dislodge them. We considered that the studies provided by Procter & Gamble demonstrated that it would be possible for those using the product to achieve a bite force, and therefore stability of denture, great enough to bite an apple in the way demonstrated in the ad without dentures dislodging. Although we appreciated that it might not be possible for some denture wearers to eat all apples in this way when using the product, we considered that the ad would not be interpreted as claiming that everyone who used the product could do so, but that it may be possible when using the product, where it was not, without the product. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (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 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.