The Dental Council Advertising Practice Standard (previously known as the Code of Practice on Advertising) came into effect on 1 November 2013.
Two years have passed, and it is timely to share some statistics and commentary.
As at 30 November 2015 -
88 advertising complaints received
Some complaints comprised more than one objection to a practitioner’s advertising- In total, 106objections considered
Source of complaints
Oral health practitioners
NZ Association of Orthodontists
NZ Dental Association
NZ Institute of Dental Technologists
NZ Dentists Orthodontic Society
Members of the public
District health board
Most complaints fall into two broad categories: those that allege false or misleading advertising of a practitioner’s nature of practice, particularly in the area of orthodontics; and those that allege inaccurate use of a specialist title (most prominently “orthodontist”).
Practitioners and professional associations significantly outnumber the public as the source of advertising complaints – 86 percent compared with 12.5 percent of the total complaints received (1.5 percent from a district health board).
The main form of advertising attracting complaints appears on the internet, that is, practice websites and Google advertising or search listings.
More often than not, advertising indiscretions brought to the Council’s attention have not been motivated by dishonesty or blatant attempts to mislead. Practitioners have typically responded favourably to the Council and promptly made changes to their advertising when asked to do so.
Sometimes factors outside the immediate control of a practitioner may affect whether or not, or how, they meet advertising standards at a given time. However, if a practitioner does not take steps to remedy a breach of the advertising practice standard notified to them, they will face closer scrutiny. The Council will consider all the options available and take appropriate action.
Finding simple solutions
Managing advertising complaints is costly and, in some cases, an unnecessary use of Council resources. In most cases, it is likely that a direct and professional communication between practitioners about an advertising concern could remedy the issue simply, without involving the Council. This is supported by our experience that most advertising complaints made to us have involved practitioner oversight or misunderstanding, rather than an intention to mislead the public. It is the practitioner’s individual responsibility to ensure all forms of advertising related to their practice comply with the Advertising Practice Standard; the responsibility cannot be delegated.