An Oral Hygiene Product Was Banned From Claiming It Works

Given that dental health is incredibly important, it is perhaps not surprising that there are so many dental health and oral hygiene products on the market that make claims that range from promising to somewhat dubious.

From a bruxism-preventing tooth retainer to many different types of whitening products, the main commonality is that these products are often aggressively but carefully marketed to ensure they fall within ASA guidelines.

An example of what happens when a product doesn’t do this can be found in the sudden downfall of BreathAsure, a supposedly revolutionary breath-freshening aid with marketing fronted by George Kennedy, an Oscar-winning actor best known for acting alongside Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun series.

The aggressive advertising campaign claimed that the gel capsules “clean” breath from within the digestive system, compared to alternatives such as mints, gum and sprays which largely cover up the smell of halitosis.

At its height, the company went from $50,000 in savings in 1992 to over $30m in sales just five years later. However, the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division investigated and found that the product did not work as advertised.

It would later find that the product did not work at all and that the water used to wash down the capsule was more effective at tackling bad breath. It then banned the company from saying that its products work at all, effectively destroying the brand entirely.

BreathAsure would eventually be banned from using the name entirely, which was a somewhat unprecedented action at the time. This would lead to a lengthy legal battle between the company, the Better Business Bureau and Warner-Lambert, now a part of drug manufacturer Pfizer.

After multiple legal defeats and injunctions against the company for continuing to sell it despite not being legally allowed to, the company declared bankruptcy and disappeared entirely.