Canadian Association of Orthodontists emphasizes the human touch

The organization launches a campaign to fend off direct-to-consumer competition.

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In it latest national campaign, the Canadian Association of Orthodontists is using a friendly robot to promote the expertise of its professionals over the newer options available to Canadian consumers.

Orthodontists in Canada have been facing competition from direct-to-consumer options such as Smile Direct Club, a rapidly growing four-year-old company that was valued at $3.2 billion USD when it launched in Canada in November. Smile Direct Club sends a person an “impression kit” in the mail, which they then use to create a model for the company to make an invisible, mouth guard-like aligner. Customers then receive instructions on how to wear their aligners, instead of visiting a dentist or orthodontist’s office.

While these companies claim lower prices, a quicker process and a potentially less visible dental appliances than a traditional orthodontist, many dental professionals in the U.S. have questioned the outcomes these options provide. The American Association of Orthodontists filed complaints in 36 states against Smile Direct Club in 2017, alleging its product was “illegal and creates medical risks.” The company has claimed that criticisms of its service are part of lobbying and PR efforts against new competition.

To convince Canadian consumers to visit an orthodontist instead of a startup for their needs, the CAO ran a campaign starring “Ortho-Bot 5000.” While the robot seems friendly, and ads featuring him tout things like “sophisticated AI” that other startups boast about, they all end with the idea that, when it comes to your teeth, a human orthodontist has the proper training and experience. The ads all drive to the CAO website, which helps visitors find the nearest human orthodontist.

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The campaign, led by agency Blackjet, has been running across social channels – typically the domain of direct-to-consumer brands – and also includes content on the CAO website.