Who: Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company (UK) Ltd t/a Kellogg’s (“Kellogg’s“) and the Advertising Standards Authority (the “ASA“).
When: 20 July 2016
Law stated as at: 8 August 2016
A complainant challenged claims made in two ads for Kellogg’s Special K products:
- A TV ad for Special K porridge featured the following voiceover, “Special K. Full of deliciousness. Full of colour. And now, with pomegranate, pumpkin seeds and raspberries. Our new five grain super porridge is full of goodness” with on-screen text stating, “Special K porridge contains vitamin B2 which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin” (the “TV Claim“).
- The Special K website stated, “All Special K flakes are made with our unique Nutri K™ recipe making a nutritious and delicious start to your day” (the “Website Claim“).
The complainant challenged the health claims made in the ads (underlined above), which were subject to Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods (the “Regulation“). This is reflected in the BCAP and CAP Codes, which requires an authorised specific health claim to accompany any general health claim.
The TV Claim
Kellogg’s believed that “full of goodness” was a general health claim and chose to use, “… contains vitamin B2 which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin” as an authorised specific health claim in order to comply with the BCAP Code. The ad had been vetted by Clearcast, who shared Kellogg’s understanding of the Regulation and therefore cleared the ad for broadcast.
The Website Claim
Kellogg’s believed that the word “nutritious” was not a health claim as it simply “highlighted the product’s generic nutritional credentials”. The word “nutritious” was used because of the various vitamins and minerals in Nutri K™ flakes. This was different to the use of “goodness” in the TV Claim, which implied a positive benefit to health. As Kellogg’s did not believe that “nutritious” was a health claim, the claim was made without any accompanying specific authorised health claim.
The ASA’s ruling
The TV Claim
The ASA agreed that “full of goodness” was a general health claim and therefore needed to be accompanied by a specific authorised health claim. In addition, the one chosen by Kellogg’s was appropriate and relevant to its consumers. However, the ASA held that the authorised health claim must clearly accompany the general health claim in the ad. This can be achieved by making the specific authorised health claim “next to or immediately following the general health claim”. This was not the case in the TV ad, where the specific authorised health claim was shown on screen before the voiceover made the general health claim. Therefore, as the specific authorised health claim did not appear with or immediately after the general health claim, it did not accompany the general health claim and the ad breached the BCAP Code. The ASA stated that if the authorised health claim had appeared with the general health claim, viewers would have understood the claim “full of goodness” to specifically relate to skin health.
The Website Claim
The ASA held that the context of the claim, on the Special K website, was one that was likely to cause consumers to interpret that “Kellogg’s Special K was “nutritious” because of its nutritional content and was, therefore, “good for you“”. As such, the ASA understood the use of “nutritious” was likely to reference the general benefits of Nutri K™ for the overall health of consumers and should have been accompanied by a specific authorised health claim. The dedicated page for Nutri K™, which listed a specific authorised health claim alongside a list of nutrients found in Nutri K™, was two clicks away from the homepage where the Website Claim was first made. Therefore, the presentation of the claim breached the BCAP Code.
The ASA banned the ads and advised Kellogg’s to ensure that general health claims were accompanied by relevant authorised health claims.
Why this matters:
The decision illustrates the importance of: (a) ensuring that a general health claim is obviously supported by a specific authorised health claim; and (b) clearly linking the two claims. This lesson is also applicable and worth remembering for any ad that features small text or a disclaimer. In addition, the decision is a reminder that clearance from Clearcast does not mean that an ad will escape censure from the ASA.