The shocking story of how Colgate and Crest advertise in China.

Essay by Keir January 2006

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I am writing about an ad for Crest toothpaste in China I've seen showing endorsements by organisations such as the Chinese Stomatology Society and the National Preventive Group for Tooth Diseases. I bet you never heard of these independent organisations before, or wondered what tests they use but, last April, a local reporter at a newspaper in Nanjing set out to find out, and the results were shocking.

When he managed to find the National Preventive Group for Tooth Diseases, he discovered that the organisation only has TWO PEOPLE! The office itself is located on the 4th floor of an old building with a sign of student dorm in the campus of medical school at Beijing University. What was most disturbing for me was that he didn't even have to leave this building to find the other organisation: The Chinese Stomatology Society, located on 5th floor of the SAME building.

When he had deigned to ask about the particular criteria of their endorsements, both organisations admitted that they decided the criteria themselves but not surprisingly refused to show the reporter to the written documents and said that they don't collect specimens from the market to test independently but accept whatever is submitted by the companies. They couldn't even explain exactly where they had conducted the test or how many patients or customers they had surveyed for endorsements!

It's said that the cost for an endorsement is up to 1 million RMB per annum. As a New Year's Resolution, I call on everyone in China who cares about corporate greed or simply being lied to to boycott Crest and Colgate toothpastes (the latter which doesn't even have enough respect for its Chinese customers to have a Chinese website) which, I admit, would be difficult when the Chinese domestic brands suck...