Just Because Your Electric Toothbrush Makes A Lot Of Noise Doesn’t Mean It’s Effective

Much like the never-ending game of oneupmanship in the razor industry, makers of toothbrushes are constantly touting unique features that promise to make your teeth that much whiter and brighter than the competition. But now one ad industry watchdog is calling foul on a commercial that implies a noisy toothbrush is somehow more effective at cleaning your chompers.

The National Advertising Division — an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation system administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus — has recommended that Philips Oral Healthcare discontinue some claims it’s made about its Sonicare Electric Toothbrushes, including the suggestion that the Sonicare is better because you can hear it working.

Rival company Procter & Gamble, which makes Oral-B electric toothbrushes, challenged claims made in “Start Your Day” Sonicare ads. In that TV spot Philips says, “This is the sound of sonic technology cleaning deep between teeth. [Powers on Oral-B 7000…] Hear the difference?”

NAD considered whether the ad implied that the respective “sounds” of the Sonicare and Oral-B technology correlate to superior efficacy for the Sonicare brushes and brush heads.

After reviewing the advertiser’s “sound of sonic technology” claims, NAD says it was “unpersuaded” by the argument that consumers would walk away only with the message that the Sonicare FlexCare is more pleasing to the ear than the Oral-B 7000.

“NAD observed that Philips linked the sound of its sonic technology with a specific comparative performance benefit in the challenged advertising,” the group says.

In its decision, NAD notes that a voiceover in the ad states, “[t]his is the sound of Sonicare technology cleaning deep between teeth” as the Sonicare device was turned on and an animated simulation depicted the FlexCare Platinum forcefully pushing water between teeth.

The watchdog concluded that at least one of the messages consumers could reasonably take away was of superior efficacy, and that the sound of sonic technology correlates to superior performance benefit of Sonicare over Oral-B at “cleaning deep between teeth.”

NAD has recommended that Philips discontinue that claim, as well as others related to how much plaque the brush can remove compared to its competitor.

Philips says in a statement that it “appreciates the NAD’s consideration of this challenge but respectfully disagrees with the NAD’s findings and recommendation regarding the Start Your Day advertisement” and will appeal the NAD’s decision to the National Advertising Review Board.