Academy of Laser Dentistry - Advertising Standards and Guidelines Policy
In keeping with our mission dedicated to improving the health and well-being of patients through the proper use of laser technology, and our desire to serve as the foremost resource for the use of laser technology in oral healthcare, the Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) has adopted a set of Advertising Standards and Guidelines. They are modeled after those of the American Dental Association but modified to incorporate provisions deemed appropriate for the laser dentistry field.
The ALD is acutely aware that we live and practice in an age of proliferating technological developments, each of them aiming to raise our standard of living and well-being. We are also aware that today's competitive and increasingly sophisticated marketplace generates immense pressures on companies and clinicians to succeed and excel by appealing to the desire to offer patients the highest levels of care through adoption of specific technologies and services.
In light of this, the Academy recognizes and embraces its obligation to help assure the dental profession as well as the public that advertisements of technologies and services under our purview not only meet the highest standards of truthfulness and accuracy, of fairness and propriety, but also fulfill the overall mission and current goals of the Academy. The profession and the public have a right to expect no less from us.
These standards and guidelines are intended to give assurance that the commercial information furnished in conjunction with ALD activities (publications, conferences, exhibits, workshops, Web site) is valid, accurate, timely, beyond reproach, and verifiable by a solid consensus of scientific and clinical evidence. For example, it is not good enough for a company merely to make a claim - the firm must substantiate its statements by providing sufficient evidence in support of that claim to the satisfaction of Academy's Advertising Policy and Review Committee before the advertisement is accepted for publication. For our part, we will make a concerted effort to be fair in encouraging collaborative participation in the continuing formation of these standards.
We also believe that it is quite possible to succeed and excel without resorting to exaggeration or unfair comparisons to specific products and techniques. In time, of course, the intense scrutiny of the dental marketplace itself decides which technologies and services are viable and worthy of adoption. We hope that our standards and guidelines will facilitate and accelerate that process.
It is further hoped that these same principles will carry over into the information produced by commercial enterprises not only in their ALD-related activities, but in all that they do - in brochures, newsletters, Web sites, spokesperson statements, training classes and materials, advertisements in other publications, exhibits in other dental conferences, and the like.
While endorsement of and adherence to ALD's Advertising Standards and Guidelines on the part of our corporate members, advertisers, and exhibitors are voluntary, the Academy of Laser Dentistry believes that it is incumbent upon all of laser dentistry's constituencies to strive to uphold the integrity of the laser dentistry field, to continue to raise the stature of our collective efforts in delivering the highest levels of patient care. We believe it is the only sure way to grow and prosper.
The Academy of Laser Dentistry has gained great respect over the years for its long-established policies related to Conflict of Interest and Full Disclosure. Similarly, our early adoption of the Curriculum Guidelines and Standards for Dental Laser Education has done much to encourage a high level of quality in training and education programs. ALD's certification program for practitioners, laser safety officers, and industry representatives is a prime example.
Individuals look for such leadership from the Academy, and we pledge our ongoing vigilance in providing it and in seeking additional ways to embellish it. It is in this spirit that the ALD Advertising Standards and Guidelines were formulated and adopted as Policy.
Advertising Standards and Guidelines
The Academy of Laser Dentistry, or ALD, seeks to promote the safe and effective use of lasers in dentistry for patient care. In serving these objectives, the ALD communicates regularly with the dental profession, with allied health professions and the public. The ALD welcomes advertising in its publications as an important means of keeping the dentist informed of new and better products and services for the practice of dentistry. Such advertising must be factual, dignified, tasteful and intended to provide useful product and service information.
These standards apply to all publications of the ALD in which advertising space is sold. The publication of an advertisement is not to be construed as an endorsement or approval by the ALD unless the advertisement specifically includes an authorized statement that such approval or endorsement has been granted. The fact that an advertisement for a product, service or company has appeared in an ALD publication shall not be referred to in collateral advertising.
As a matter of policy, the ALD will sell advertising space in its publications when the inclusion of advertising material does not interfere with the purpose of the publication. The ALD reserves the right to accept or reject advertising at its sole discretion for any product or service submitted for publication.
- All advertisements submitted for display in an ALD publication are subject to review.
- Advertisements must not be deceptive or misleading.
- Products or services eligible for advertising in ALD publications must be germane to and effective and useful in the practice of dentistry. Products and services offered by responsible advertisers that are not related to dentistry but are of interest to dentists are eligible for advertising in ALD publications.
- Advertisements will not be accepted if they conflict with or appear to violate ALD policy or its Constitution and Bylaws, the American Dental Association (ADA) Principles of Ethics or if the advertisements are deemed offensive in either text or artwork, or contain attacks of a personal, racial, or religious nature.
- By submitting advertising copy, advertisers certify that such copy and the advertised product(s) are in accord with applicable government laws and regulations (for example, regulations covering U.S. FDA clearances). Acceptance of advertising in ALD publications is not to be construed as a guarantee that the manufacturer has complied with such laws and regulations.
- Complete scientific and technical data, whether published or unpublished, concerning product safety, operation, and usefulness will be required. The ALD reserves the right to decline advertising for any product involved with a government agency challenge or denial of product marketing, and for any technique or product that is the subject of an unfavorable or cautionary report by any agency.
- All claims of fact must be fully supported and meaningful in terms of performance or any other benefit. The ALD may require a minimum of one study for certain types of ads.
- The advertisement may cite, in footnotes, references from dental and other scientific literature provided the reference is truthful and is a fair and accurate representation of the body of literature supporting the claim made. Unwarranted disparagements or unfair comparisons of a competitor's products or services will not be allowed.
- Comparative advertising must be fair and, unless it is "puffery," must be substantiated adequately.* Comparative advertising which is not puffery is strictly reviewed because of the potential that it may unfairly attack a competitor or mislead the profession or public. A minimum of one controlled study will be required for comparative advertisements. Additional studies may be required depending on the nature of the advertiser's claim. Studies must be among subjects representative of the population for whom the product is intended. All citable comparative studies related to an advertising claim should be taken into consideration. If other comparative studies give conflicting results, advertising claims not reflecting this are unacceptable. Comparative advertisements may include the use of a competitor's name and description of a comparable product or service, including price, if the comparison is made in a manner that is not false or misleading.
- Display advertising with respect to employment, purchase of practice, participation or any other contractual relationship with any dental care delivery mode or system shall not be accepted for publication. Such opportunities may be advertised in the classified sections of ALD publications without any illustrations or graphics.
- Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products are not eligible for advertising.
- Special-purpose foods and nutritional supplements (e.g., low-sugar foods, postoperative and other therapeutic diets) are eligible when their uses are supported by acceptable data.
- Books related to the practice of dentistry are eligible for advertising. Appropriate books of interest to dentist and their families as consumers are eligible for advertising in ALD publications.
- An advertisement for an educational course is eligible if the course is conducted under the auspices of the ALD, the provider is recognized by the Education & Research or an accredited dental or medical school. The ALD reserves the right to decline advertising for any course that involves the teaching or use of a product or technique that conflicts with Academy policy, or is the subject of an unfavorable or cautionary report by any agency.
- Miscellaneous products and services not specified in these standards may be eligible to advertise on case-by-case basis.
Guidelines for Advertising Copy
- The advertiser and the product or service being offered should be clearly identified in the advertisement.
- Advertising that simulates editorial content must be clearly identified as advertising. The word "advertisement" must be displayed prominently for all advertorials.
- Guarantees may be used in advertisements provided that statements that are "guaranteed" are truthful and can be substantiated. However, no guarantee should be used without disclosing its conditions and limitations. When space or time restrictions preclude such disclosures, the advertisement must clearly reveal where the full text of the guarantee can be examined before purchase.
- Advertisements must not quote the names, statements or writings of any individual, public official, government agency, testing group or other organization without their express written consent. Guidelines for the use of testimonials appear below.
- Use of the ALD name and credentials is not permitted without prior written authorization.
Guidelines for Evaluating Testimonials in Dental Advertising
Testimonials are acceptable so long as they are not used in a false or misleading manner.
- Advertisers must provide written proof that statements used in testimonials were made and that persons making the statements have consented to the use of their names in the promotion.
- Testimonials on the efficacy of drugs or devices must be scientifically substantiated and consistent with any and all FDA statements on the products.
- Testimonials should reflect the current honest opinion, finding or experience of the endorser. The advertiser should provide evidence that the endorser is a current bona fide user of the product at the time the advertisement appears.
- Any "material connection" between the advertiser and the endorser must be disclosed.
- Consumers must not be led to believe that their own experience with a product will be comparable to the endorser's experience, unless that comparability can be substantiated. In the alternative, the ad should clearly disclose the limited applicability of the endorser's experience to what consumers can expect to achieve.
- Testimonials should be reviewed overall for their potential to mislead or confuse. For example, has a testimonial been excerpted in a way that changes its overall meaning or impact?
Although ALD cannot guarantee adherence in all cases to a fixed time schedule, every effort will be made to expedite ALD review. Advertisers are strongly urged to submit all ad copy in rough form.
Review of advertising will range between 5 and 30 working days depending on the number of revisions and on whether the advertisement is for a new or existing product. If supporting data are not provided or are incomplete, additional time will be required.
ALD is willing to act as a consultation or suggestion resource for advertisers as much as needed, from early ad conception through final implementation, to help assure a smooth approval process.
Advertising Challenge Procedures
The Academy of Laser Dentistry advocates the publication of advertisements that are truthful and in good taste, and which include substantiated claims and qualifying information about the attributes or use of a product or service, whenever such information is needed to avoid misleading potential purchasers.
In the interest of an ethical dental marketplace, any advertisement appearing in the publications of the Academy of Laser Dentistry may be challenged. This standard also applies to any professional or consumer advertisement, appearing in any media, for products that are participants in the acceptance, certification or professional recognition programs. All challenges must be submitted in writing to the Advertising Policy and Review Committee.
The purpose of the challenge procedure is to improve the advertisement and, in so doing, help fulfill the mission of the Academy. The challenge process, intended to be collaborative rather than adversarial, is outlined below.
The Academy will implement the following procedures in the event an advertisement is challenged.
- When an ad is to be challenged, the challenge should be presented in writing and with appropriate supporting documentation to the ALD Advertising Policy and Review Committee. The challenge should be prepared in a form suitable for transmittal to the challenged advertiser.
- The challenger has the right to indicate that certain material is to be considered confidential. If reasonable, such requests will be honored.
- If the challenge reasonably appears to have merit in the opinion of the Committee alone, it will be transmitted to the challenged advertiser for response. The Academy will maintain the confidentiality of any substantiation originally submitted by the challenged advertiser in support of claims made in the advertisement. However, the challenged advertiser must submit a response, with supporting data, to the Advertising Policy and Review Committee in a form that is suitable for transmittal to the challenger.
- The challenged advertiser will be expected to respond to the challenger within two weeks (unless special circumstances dictate a different deadline) and provide the Advertising Policy and Review Committee with a copy of its response.
- In order to resolve the issues raised by a challenge, it may become necessary to require the challenger and/or the challenged advertiser to respond in writing or in person to the arguments and data received by the Committee.
- If the Academy does not have the technical expertise necessary to make a judgment, the Academy reserves the right to utilize outside consultants, or a third party acceptable to both the challenger and the advertiser to obtain a resolution. Reasonable costs for such outside consultancy shall be borne by the challenger.
- Challenges made outside the confines of the Advertising Policy and Review Committee will not be considered.
- The decision of the Advertising Policy and Review Committee is the final decision of the Academy of Laser Dentistry on any challenge.
The Academy of Laser Dentistry will generally permit a challenged advertisement to continue to run unless:
- It is voluntarily withdrawn by the challenged advertiser.
- The challenged advertiser refuses to cooperate with the procedures herein described, or fails to supply a written response to the challenge.
- A decision is rendered against the challenged advertiser by the Advertising Policy and Review Committee, or by a third party to whom the challenge has been referred for resolution.
- The issues raised by the challenge are resolved, with finality, against the advertiser by a government agency or appropriate court.
- The Advertising Policy and Review Committee, prior to final disposition of the challenge, determines in its sole discretion that the existing substantiation for the challenged advertisement has been brought in serious question and can no longer be substantiated to the satisfaction of the Committee.
If a decision is made that the challenger's position is correct, in whole or in part, then the challenged ad will not be allowed to appear further in ALD publications or other media unless and until the ad is modified, as directed by the Advertising Policy and Review Committee.
Inquiries, comments, suggestions and endorsements may be directed to:
Gail S. Siminovsky, Executive Director
Academy of Laser Dentistry
PO Box 8667
Coral Springs, FL 33075
* Comparative advertising is the practice of directly or indirectly comparing identifiable products or competitors in advertising messages and usually making a comparison on one or more specific attributes or characteristics. Puffery is advertising that makes general or vague claims about a product that cannot be measured and that neither mentions a competitor's name nor makes comparisons to an identifiable product or group of products.