The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld complaints and prevented further broadcasts of a recent Denplan TV advert described as "misleading" by consumers who highlighted that cosmetic dentistry was not covered by the dental insurer.
Eleven complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading, because they understood that cosmetic dentistry was not covered by Denplan.
ASA said: "The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Denplan Ltd to ensure that in future their ads did not mislead viewers about the extent of their insurance coverage."
The TV ad for Denplan, seen on 20 October 2015, featured a man with yellow, crooked and cracked teeth trying to hide them whilst taking 'selfie' photos. The voice-over stated, "Love your teeth. Ask your dentist about Denplan." On-screen text stated '#doitforyourselfie'.
Denplan said the ad was designed to motivate consumers to become proactive about their approach to oral health using the phrase 'Love your teeth. Ask your dentist about Denplan'.
The insurer said the approach had not been about products or plans but a humorous approach to an individual who had not looked after his oral health.
Denplan also ensured that there had been professional input by Denplan clinicians at all stages of preparation and shooting of the ad. The actor's prosthesis was modified and approved by a Denplan dentist to exclude any purely cosmetic interventions.
Clearcast, an organisation which pre-approves advertising, believed the message of the ad was that if viewers didn't want their teeth to look like those shown, they should look after their teeth with Denplan.
They did not believe the ad suggested that Denplan would rectify teeth similar to those featured, but that if viewers wanted to love their teeth, they should look after them with Denplan.
However ASA said, "Given the absence of any explanation in the ad about what types of treatment were covered by Denplan, we considered viewers generally were likely to interpret the ad to mean anyone with poor teeth could improve their appearance through Denplan, including via cosmetic interventions."
ASA concluded: "We considered that viewers were unlikely to know exactly which treatments the man required to make his teeth look good again, and were likely to assume, given that his teeth were stained yellow, crooked and cracked, that some of the treatments would be cosmetic.
Because cosmetic dentistry was not available under Denplan, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead viewers.
"The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Denplan Ltd to ensure that in future their ads did not mislead viewers about the extent of their insurance coverage."