Shampoo Ad Claims, 'Not to be Taken Literally' Insists P&G

13 May 2005

Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has administered a severe 'tssssk' to Procter & Gamble and its agency, the London unit of WPP's Grey Global Group, telling the duo to stop running a misleading TV commercial for Pantene Pro-V shampoo.

The planet's largest advertiser had been airing an ad claiming the brand enables users to "put back [into their hair] what life takes out". Rapped by the ASA for misleading the public, P&G protested that the ambiguous claim was mere "advertising puffery that would not be taken literally".

However, the ASA disagreed, not only with brand assertion but a gush of accompanying scientific gobbledygook about the benefits of "key" amino acids that would make hair "up to ten times stronger".

P&G promptly produced 'scientific evidence' to support the claims for its heavily promoted brand. Confronted with this, the ASA called in its own scientific expert who rubbished the 'evidence' en bloc.

The brand, he said, could not replenish amino acids, and questioned the very use of the term. The expert opined that the two amino acids shown to be most lost from hair were not even present in the product - thereby refuting the "key" claim.

The ASA ruled the ad cannot be shown again in its current form.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff