Colgate ad may face ASA action

Colgate could face action from the Advertising Standards Authority for a knocking campaign against rival mouthwash product Listerine.

Colgate’s new Plax mouthwash 96-sheet campaign, launched last Friday through Young & Rubicam, promotes its accreditation from the British Dental Association and ridicules Listerine’s TV ads. Listerine, it says, is recommended not by the BDA but “a dragon called Clifford”.

The Colgate ad appears to breach the British code of advertising and sales promotion which states: “Advertising should not make unfair use of the goodwill attached to the… advertising campaign of any other business”.

Colgate faces further problems because the BDA accreditation incurs an annual fee. The ASA says all financial relationships for product endorsements must be stated in the ad.

Colgate Oral Care marketing director Gary Guthrie says the ads are “not really directed at Listerine at all”.

Listerine maker Warner Wellcome Consumer Healthcare marketing director David O’Sullivan says “we are reviewing the situation.”

An unnamed poster contractor contacted the ASA before the ad was run but the ASA says Colgate did not seek advice.

However, Guthrie maintains that Colgate is “confident the campaign is within the spirit of the codes of advice, and the law.”

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