P&G documentary format ads ruled not misleading

Procter & Gamble’s series of “Science Behind The Beauty” ads for three P&G brands that ran through one hour of programming as part of an over-arching strategy have been cleared of being misleading.


The ads all featured Anna Ryder Richardson dressed in a white labcoat and were for Oral B toothbrushes, Olay Regenerist face cream and Head & Shoulders shampoo.

In the first ad Richardson said “You’re watching science behind the beauty. I’m testing out the claims behind the products” and at the end referred to joining Richardson “in the next break”

During the Oral B ad she spoke to the chief executive of the British Dental health Foundation and a P&G clinical scientist. The other ads also featured experts and company scientists.

All three ads featured on-screen text at the beginning, towards the middle and at the end stating “This is an advertisement”.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints that the ads were misleading because they did not make clear what they were advertising and that they implied the products had been independently chosen for inclusion.

P&G said it believed that the superimposed text satisfied requirements to distinguish the spots as ads and that the context within an ad break was clear. The company disagreed that the ads implied each of the products had been independently chosen for assessment and that the identity of the advertiser was clear.

The ASA noted that some people were concerned that the ads used a programme format and used a recognisable TV presenter but also noted that all complainants had recognised they were watching advertising content.

The regulator said it would be clear to viewers that the featured products had been chosen for the purposes of advertising, rather than independently for investigation, and so clear that the content was paid-for advertising.

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