Colgate’s Media Buzz Score Suffers Amid Triclosan Concern

Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Mike Schade, who is running a retailer-focused Mind the Store campaign for a Washington-based consumer group called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and Bloomberg's Lindsey Rupp discuss the debate over the use of triclosan in consumer products. They spoke with Pimm Fox on "Taking Stock." (This video was edited to remove three inaccurate statements about triclosan and incorrect timing for the testing of Total toothpaste. The segment originally aired Aug. 13.) (Source: Bloomberg)

Colgate-Palmolive Co. (CL)’s “buzz score” has fallen to a 14-month low amid rekindled concerns about the use of triclosan in its Total toothpaste, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

The score -- a benchmark used by YouGov BrandIndex to measure positive and negative messages on a brand in the media - - has dropped by almost two-thirds, slipping to 6 yesterday from 17 on Aug. 8. Even so, consumers in the survey haven’t yet shown that they’re changing purchasing decisions based on the information, the research firm found.

Bloomberg News reported last week on the Food and Drug Administration approval process for Total 17 years ago, raising new questions about how the product was evaluated. Recently released portions of the Total application show that the FDA relied on company-backed science and might not have done enough due diligence before approving the use of triclosan in the toothpaste, according to three scientists who reviewed the documents at Bloomberg’s request.

Related:

Triclosan has been linked to cancer-cell growth and disrupted development in animals, and many companies are ceasing to put it in other products, such as hand soaps. Colgate has stood by its use in Total, citing the FDA’s approval of the product as an over-the-counter drug in 1997. Total relies on triclosan as an antibacterial chemical to ward off gum disease.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Triclosan has been linked to cancer-cell growth and disrupted development in animals, and many companies are ceasing to put it in other products, such as hand soaps. Close

Triclosan has been linked to cancer-cell growth and disrupted development in animals,... Read More

Close
Open
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Triclosan has been linked to cancer-cell growth and disrupted development in animals, and many companies are ceasing to put it in other products, such as hand soaps.

ADA Accepted

“Colgate Total has been reviewed and approved by U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia regulatory authorities as safe and effective,” Tom DiPiazza, a spokesman for the New York-based company, said in an e-mail. “The American Dental Association recently reaffirmed its acceptance of Colgate Total for its Seal, noting that ‘there is no clinically relevant scientific evidence indicating that the Seal should be removed from the Colgate Total product.’”

The buzz score measures the percentage of consumers who have heard something positive about the brand versus the number who have heard something negative. YouGov BrandIndex interviews 4,300 people each weekday from a representative sample of the U.S. population.

The score is based on what consumers have heard from advertising, news stories or word of mouth. That makes it a measure of media awareness, not brand reputation, DiPiazza said.

Colgate shares dropped 0.6 percent to $64.26 today in New York. The stock has lost 1.5 percent of its value this year.

General Motors Co. suffered a similar drop in its buzz score after concerns about product recalls this year, though the number of shoppers considering purchasing GM cars has been rebounding, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

Colgate may take a wait-and-see attitude, Erin Lash, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. (MORN) in Chicago, said last week in an interview.

“If they really feel that this will ultimately damage the brand, I think they will take action,” she said. “But at this point, I don’t think they think it will damage the brand.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lauren Coleman-Lochner in New York at llochner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net John Lear

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.