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Colgate censured for misleading advert


The firm behind the Colgate brand has been reprimanded by the advertising watchdog for wrongly implying that one of its toothpastes has the backing of health professionals.

The television advert for Colgate Total featured a woman saying: "As a nurse, I keep people healthy by fighting bacteria", as on-screen text stated: "Representation of nurse."

She was then shown visiting her dentist, and said: "So I was shocked when my dentist showed me all the bacteria in my mouth, the cause of most dental problems. He recommended I switch to Colgate Total, and wow. The bacteria was practically gone."

On-screen text stated: "Creative representation."

The ad drew seven complaints that it misleadingly implied that the product was endorsed by members of the nursing profession by featuring a nurse at work and a reference to fighting bacteria.

Colgate, made by US corporation Colgate-Palmolive, said the ad featured an actress cast as a nurse who appeared as an individual and as a consumer and made references only to herself and not on behalf of any other members of the nursing profession.

It said it believed that the overall impression was "clearly fictitious" and viewers would not see the ad as recounting the experience of a real nurse or as portraying an endorsement by the nursing profession in general.

The Advertising Standards Authority noted that the nurse was shown in a uniform and a clinical environment other than when she visited her dentist, and stated that she was a nurse.

"We considered that, in the context of an ad in which antibacterial claims were made, and in conjunction with someone who appeared to be a healthcare professional, viewers were likely to infer that the product was endorsed by members of that profession," it said.

"We acknowledged the ad included on-screen text during the first scene that stated 'Representation of a nurse' but did not consider that this took away from the overall impression that the product was endorsed by members of the nursing profession and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading."

It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form and told Colgate not to imply that products were endorsed by healthcare professionals in future unless that was the case.