The American Dental Association's Council on Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs cautioned dentists about advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the ADA expressed the concern that, in their advertising, some dental practices could suggest that that they are "safer" than other dental offices.
The ADA warned that "it is easy to overstep in communication and marketing and imply superiority that may not be science-based or be substantiated by fact. Such claims may materially mislead the public and risk denigrating other practices. These unsubstantiated claims create public confusion and prey upon the fear that our pandemic has created."
The ADA's Principles of Ethics & Code of Professional Conduct prohibit, "any form of communication in a manner that is false or misleading in any material respect."
The ADA said that dentists should not make superiority claims regarding infection control. The ADA wrote, “A dental office will not have day-to-day information regarding current infection control protocols being performed by another office. Any claims of superiority would be based on assumptions or likely outdated information. In our current, rapidly changing environment, comparisons to another office would likely be inaccurate at best.”
The ADA also told dentists to educate their social media marketing firms about the types of claims that are appropriate.
The ADA acknowledged, however, that "Simply listing your updated infection control policies with your patients is most appropriate and accordance to our Code of Ethics."
Even if you're not doing dental advertising, the concerns that the ADA raised here are important for all businesses to keep in mind as they reopen their stores and encourage consumers to visit in person. While you may want to reassure customers about what you're doing to make their shopping experience a safer one, you should use caution not to make safety claims that you cannot substantiate. As a general matter, it's going to be better to be specific about what measures you are taking, rather than to promise a certain left of safety. And, if you do talk about what you're doing, make sure you explain it accurately.
"it is easy to overstep in communication and marketing and imply superiority that may not be science-based or be substantiated by fact"