Selling Sonicare

Can we make up our minds?

A few years ago my dentist persuaded me to switch to a Sonicare® toothbrush as a way to combat incipient periodontal disease. These basically consist of a charging unit, a battery, a motor, and a brush. Cleverly, the folks at Sonicare, apparently now owned by Phillips, thought to make the motor and brush an inseparable unit, enhancing the revenue stream from replacement brushes.

Sonicare packaging
text detail
text detail

I went to Long's Drug Store to pick up a replacement brush. Egad—there are now different models of Sonicare toothbrushes which—you guessed it—require different replacement parts. I leave it to you to decide for yourself the necessity of Elite and Advance versions of a toothbrush. My own opinion is, Brush, smush, you push the button, it vibrates rapidly, it makes your teeth clean.

Since replacement heads are pricely little items, I wanted to make sure that I got ones that would fit my existing Sonicare. Elite? or Advance? I zeroed in on the informative text on the packaging.

As you can see, the package contains two sets of conflicting claims.

  • The heads in the package are both "Standard" and "Advance"
  • The heads in the package can be used "with Advance series handles only" and "with all original and Advance series."

It just astonishes me that a big company like Philips, that doubtless hired a big-name marketing agency to devise the packaging, puts out a product package with such obviously confusing labeling. Doesn't anybody teach semantics and grammar anymore?!? Don't advertisers and marketers hire copy editors any more?


For your information, the Advance replacement heads do work on the original handles.