Burst Electric Toothbrush
May 3rd, 2021
“See why over 26,000 dental professionals recommend BURST!” the maker of the electric toothbrush says in the caption to the above Facebook video ad, which launched April 22 and is still active.
In the ad, a woman who claims to be a registered dental hygienist says she recommends Burst over a manual toothbrush. She cites demonstrations in social media videos with the hashtag #cornchallenge showing the electric toothbrush removing more embedded coffee grounds than a regular toothbrush.
“While corn isn’t teeth it gives you a good idea of how the brush can clean in-between tight spaces as it would in your mouth,” she says.
But there may be another reason why she and thousands of other dental professionals recommend Burst that may affect consumers’ opinion of their endorsement but that isn’t disclosed in the ad: money.
In response to an inquiry by TINA.org, Burst did not answer a question about whether the unnamed woman is a member of the company’s ambassador program (aka its professionals program). According to the Burst website, “Members of our professionals program may receive compensation when consumers they refer make purchases from BURST.”
But that wasn’t the only question that went unanswered in our inquiry. Burst also did not respond to the following:
- Is the ambassador program the same as the affiliate program, which claims to offer “[u]p to 20% commission on the total of every referred sale”? (The Burst electric toothbrush ranges in price from $69.99 to $99.99 – do the math.)
- How many of the nearly 45,000 5-star “customer reviews” touted on the website came from members of the ambassador program who have a financial connection to the company that could affect how they view the product and the brand? (The website notes that, “Some reviewers are dentists and hygienists who are members of the BURST Ambassador Program.” UPDATE 5/3/21: After TINA.org reached out to the company for comment, the number of 5-star customer reviews advertised on the Burst website dropped more than 7,000, to 37,200.)
- Has Burst conducted any studies into whether its product performs better than other electric toothbrushes? (In the caption to the Facebook video ad, the company claims that its electric toothbrush is “[c]linically proven to [r]emove up to 10X more plaque than a manual toothbrush.” According to the American Dental Association, both manual and electric toothbrushes are effective at removing plaque.)
In fact, the only information that Burst was willing to share was that it had stopped airing a TV commercial that was the original impetus for our inquiry.
Check back for updates.
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