Colgate’s Charcoal U-turn Creates Social Media Fiasco

Social media users in India are taking Colgate to task for claiming that charcoal, an ingredient in its ‘Charcoal Deep Clean’ toothpaste, has extraordinary cleaning properties. People are irked by the fact that back in the 70’s, the multinational weaned Indian consumers away from using charcoal by claiming it was harmful for teeth. 
Colgate-Palmolive’s (India) Facebook post on ‘Colgate Total Charcoal Deep Clean’, its latest toothpaste, has received a lot of flak from social media users on its claim that charcoal, which is present in the toothpaste as micro particles, has extraordinary cleaning properties. This contradicts the multinational’s earlier stance that abrasive products can spoil tooth enamel and should be avoided.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Colgate’s ad showed a boldybuilder in a village setting asking his sister-in-law to bring him “doodh-badam” (almond in milk) and “koyla” (charcoal). In response to this the sister-in-law retorts: “Arre wah devarji, badan ke liye doodh-badaam, aur daaton ke liye koyla? (Wow! a health drink for the body but charcoal for the teeth?)”. A voice-over then prods viewers to use Colgate tooth powder because “khurdare padaarth” (abrasive substances) can spoil enamel -the outermost covering of the teeth.

colgate-charcoal-u-turn-creates-a-social-media-fiasco-in-india-advertising-bloopers-marketing-strategyIn a 360 degree turn from this stance, Colgate’s new toothpaste advertisement claims it has the power of charcoal (“kehte hair charcoal ghazab ki safai kar sakta hai …”).

On Colgate’s Facebook page, one user says, “Once upon a time your company was against this … just see your company ad 20 years back … please don’t cheat …”).
To this Colgate replies, “While the commercial is not available for reference, you are probably referring to an old Colgate Toothpowder commercial which highlighted the harmful effect of direct application of coarse materials on the enamel of teeth.” It asks the user to be rest assured about the product.
Social media users are not buying the explanation and many other commentators are calling out Colgate on the discrepancy in their ‘storytelling’.
Another user says, “We in India have been using charcoal and neem since ages. But it was Colgate who came and told to use paste instead of neem and charcoal to keep teeth and mouth clean …” (Source: TOI)

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