Better Business Bureau challenges ACT ad claims

The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Chattem discontinue or modify advertising claims for ACT Total Care.

Prompted by complaints by rival Procter & Gamble, NAD investigated Chattem's claims for the fluoride mouth rinse, including:

  • "[ACT Total Care] Fights Unsightly Plaque*" (*as part of a dentist advised oral health program)
  • "[ACT Total Care is] the mouthwash that does it all" and provides "Total Care"
  • "[ACT Total Care provides] Strong Teeth + Healthy Mouth + Fresh Breath"
  • "[ACT Total Care] Kills Bad Breath Germs"

At the outset of the NAD inquiry, Chattem voluntarily agreed to discontinue the first two of these claims, according to NAD. "Chattem is currently evaluating the recommendations," said Susan Brooks, spokesperson for Sanofi-aventis, which acquired Chattem in March 2010.

NAD then determined that Chattem's in vitro study, presented as evidence, was insufficient to support the challenged claims that ACT Total Care kills the germs that cause bad breath. The research doesn't show that germs are killed when the product is used by a person as intended, NAD said, and, thus, it recommended that the claims be discontinued.

Regarding the claim that the product provides strong teeth, a healthy mouth, and fresh breath, NAD found that the phrase "healthy mouth" conveyed a greater health benefit than supported by the evidence. NAD recommended that the claim be modified to state "strong teeth + fresh breath = healthy mouth" or a similar iteration.

Finally, NAD determined that the record did not reflect any consumer confusion regarding the product's name and determined that a name change was not warranted.

In its advertiser's statement, Chattem noted that it disagreed with NAD's conclusion that Chattem's in vitro study, standing alone, was insufficient to support the claim "[ACT Total Care] Kills Bad Breath Germs" or similar iterations. However, the company said it accepted the organization's findings, according to NAD.

Copyright © 2010

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