Colgate ads in bad taste, says Crest

No one is smiling in a toothpaste spat between Colgate-Palmolive (Canada) and Procter & Gamble.Billboards rented by Colgate-Palmolive have appeared in Toronto that take dead aim at p&g's current tv spot for Crest, which promotes how well that toothpaste takes care...

No one is smiling in a toothpaste spat between Colgate-Palmolive (Canada) and Procter & Gamble.

Billboards rented by Colgate-Palmolive have appeared in Toronto that take dead aim at p&g’s current tv spot for Crest, which promotes how well that toothpaste takes care of the calcium in teeth.

Barry Jones, joint managing director at D’Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles, Crest’s agency, was furious.

Jones says the billboard shows Colgate-Palmolive is concerned about its performance in the toothpaste market.

He says comparative ads are ‘very unusual’ for the category.

Roger Calmeyer, vice-president of marketing at Toronto-based Colgate-Palmolive, says the billboards stem from his company’s frustration in dealing with a Crest ad that Colgate feels is not entirely accurate.

The Crest tv spot uses a chicken’s egg to show what happens to teeth when they are treated with the toothpaste and when they are not.

The Colgate-Palmolive ad shows an egg with the Crest logo and the tagline, ‘For strong eggs,’ and next to it a line drawing of a human face with a smile made from a line of toothpaste coming from a tube of Colgate. The tagline reads, ‘For strong teeth.’

Calmeyer says egg shells and human teeth have different compositions, adding that in ‘many countries’ p&g has taken its ad off the air.

Calmeyer says Colgate-Palmolive tried to persuade p&g to pull the ad in Canada through the usual channels, and through a company to company approach, but to no avail.

He says Colgate-Palmolive is talking now to the Health Protection Branch of Health and Welfare Canada.

No one was available for comment at the Canadian Advertising Foundation, which usually mediates disputes of this kind.

Tom Gove, director of corporate affairs at p&g, says the rival company’s billboard takes ‘a non-scientific slap’ at Crest.

John Dodgson, Cheseborough-Ponds account director at J. Walter Thompson in Toronto, which has the Close-Up toothpaste account, echoes Jones, also finding the billboard ‘very unusual.’

Dodgson says the category is innovation-driven rather than comparison-driven, noting that he has not seen a comparison ad while doing research looking at old advertising reels.

Calmeyer says 10 billboards with the comparison ad have gone up in Toronto. He declined to say if Colgate-Palmolive plans to extend the campaign.

At least two of the billboards have been planted on p&g’s doorstep. One billboard is right across from the company’s offices in north Toronto, and another is just down the street.

Calmeyer says the placement of these two billboards did not happen by accident.

Crest is the best-selling toothpaste in Canada. Calmeyer says Colgate is the best-selling toothpaste worldwide and No. 2 in this country. DC