Listerine ad banned for oral health claim

A U.K. radio advertisement for Listerine stating that "brushing alone isn't enough" has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following a complaint that the claim was misleading unsubstantiated, according to a ruling by the ASA.

Johnson & Johnson responded by referring to data from a 2009 survey that found high rates of oral health issues among a population sample in which 75% brushed their teeth twice a day and an additional 23% brushed once a day. In addition, it referenced 10 studies supporting their product's ability to combat plaque, caries, periodontal disease, bad breath, and other oral health issues.

The company also denied that the ad implied that the overall community of dental professionals endorsed the idea or agreed that mouth rinse use is a necessary aspect of oral health maintenance.

The ASA disagreed, finding the advertisement claim was misleading and unsubstantiated, and ruled that the ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. It considered that consumers would understand the claim "brushing alone isn't enough" to mean that it was generally accepted within the dental community that brushing alone was not sufficient to maintain oral health, and that a mouthwash should also be used.

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