Wrigley Challenges Cadbury’s Trident Xtra Care Ads

Wm. Wrigley Jr.’s complaint against Cadbury USA’s advertising claim that its Trident Xtra Care gum builds tooth enamel has been routed to the Federal Trade Commission for review, the National Advertising Division said this week.

Wrigley initially submitted its complaint earlier this year to NAD, which is part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The gum maker challenged Cadbury’s claim that Trident Xtra Care “strengthens your teeth” and said the claim is misleading to consumers. According to Wrigley, Cadbury didn’t have proof demonstrating that a form of calcium the gum contains (called recaldent) strengthens teeth as a result of chewing.

To back up its claim Cadbury had initially responded with published and unpublished studies, but later asked NAD to dismiss Wrigley’s compliant because another governmental regulatory agency was also making inquiries about Cadbury’s tooth enamel-building positioning. A NAD rep said the division chose to pursue the case anyway and has asked FTC officials to examine the matter further. (The FTC treats cases referred by NAD as priority.)

“We are surprised and disappointed NAD elected to retain jurisdiction notwithstanding the pending government agency inquiry,” said Luisa Girotto, Cadbury’s vp of corporate communication. “We are confident of Trident Xtra Care’s benefits and stand by the statements we have made, and note that we provided to NAD a substantive response to each of the false arguments raised by Wrigley in its challenge.”

The battle between the gum makers illustrates how important the functional gum category has become. “It would be a blow because if [teeth strengthening] becomes part of what consumers are aware of and if it’s deemed to be false, they would lose trust in the brand,” said Dave Morris, food and beverage research director at Mintel, Chicago.

Cadbury introduced Trident Xtra Care in the summer backed by a campaign that included TV, print and online ads, via JWT, New York. Advances in flavor and manufacturing technology enabled Cadbury to double the dosage of recaldent, which was also used in Trident White, per the company. Wrigley, on the other hand, has chosen to focus on oral health while adding endorsements from the American Dental Association on packages of Extra and Orbit