September 9, 2011 -- The National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products modify certain claims for its Reach Total Care + Whitening toothbrush to clarify that the brush whitens teeth through the abrasive action rather than through bleaching.
As part of its routine monitoring program, NAD -- the advertising industry's self-regulatory forum -- requested substantiation for express claims that included the following:
NAD also examined the implied claim that the Reach Total Care + Whitening toothbrush has been proven to actually whiten teeth when used in the same manner as an ordinary toothbrush.
According to Johnson & Johnson, the toothbrush, launched in 2010, was designed with bristles embedded with calcium carbonate, recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an abrasive used in fluoride toothpastes.
In support of its claims, Johnson & Johnson provided NAD with evidence that demonstrated that bristles infused with calcium carbonate do, in fact, provide statistically significantly better stain removal than brushes with ordinary bristles. The company also provided testing to demonstrate that its advertised toothbrush provided significantly better plaque removal than the other two ordinary toothbrushes tested. In addition, Johnson & Johnson's evidence demonstrated that the difference in whitening and stain removal was meaningful to consumers, according to NAD.
Following its review of evidence, NAD determined that Johnson & Johnson could support the claim that "[o]rdinary toothbrushes clean teeth. Reach whitens them."
However, NAD recommended that the company modify the claims "whitens and removes stains" and "each time you brush you're whitening and removing stains" to ensure that consumers are aware that stain removal is accomplished extrinsically, through the stain-removing abrasive action of the bristles, not intrinsically through bleaching.
According to NAD, Johnson & Johnson said it is disappointed with the NAD recommendation, "given the industry practice of making unqualified whitening claims based on data showing extrinsic whitening only. Nevertheless, we understand NAD's recommendations and will take them into consideration in future advertising."