ASA rounds on GSK and Colgate for ad rule dodge

GlaxoSmithKline has been slammed by the Advertising Standards Authority for attempting to get round rules banning the use of dentists to endorse toothpaste brands by running separate television ads in the same break.

Simultaneously, rival Colgate Palmolive has been rapped for a similar offence.

GSK ran two ads, both created by Grey London, in the same break. The first GSK ad featured a dentist discussing sensitive teeth. The second, which appeared a few ads later, started with on-screen text reading “the problem with sensitive teeth” and then cut to a woman talking about how she had used GSK’s Sensodyne to cure the problem.

The ASA launched an investigation on its own initiative. GSK, the agency and the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Committee argued that the first ad was part of a disease awareness campaign and that viewers would not necessarily either see both ads in the same break or link them together. The ASA disagreed, and said that linking the two ads broke the rules.

A second ASA-initiated investigation looked at a Colgate Sensitive ad, created by Young & Rubicam, which featured a woman saying her dentist had recommended using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth; she then extolled the virtues of Colgate Sensitive. The advertiser argued there was no endorsement of the product by a dentist, and that the woman shown had chosen the brand independently. The ASA rejected this argument, and has ordered Colgate to amend a whole series of ads that use similar wording.

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