Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
When: 6 August 2014
Law stated as at: 8 September 2014
Cereal Partners UK, the manufacturers of the Nestle cereal brands, advertised the well-known “Shredded Wheat” cereal in a television ad. The ad portrayed the inventor of the cereal, Henry Perky, exercising in 19th century style underwear, surrounded by wheat fields. The voiceover in the ad stated that “Henry Perky put his heart into keeping healthy” and one day “stumbled upon something that would end up looking after it: 100% wholegrain wheat, no added sugar, no added salt”. The ad continued, “today, that same breakfast helps keep your heart healthy”, while displaying packets of Original and Bitesize Shredded Wheat. This was followed by a scene showing the same man tasting honey from a jar, with the voice over saying, “Love honey? You’ll love Honey Nut Shredded Wheat”. The ASA received a complaint based on the fact that Honey Nut Shredded Wheat has added sugar.
“Two Separate, Distinct ads: Original v Honey Nut”
Cereal Partners UK argued that this ad was not misleading as they contended that there were two separate ads for distinct products, and therefore the average consumer would recognise that the claims contained in one did not apply to the other. Cereal Partners UK argued that the separation of the ads would be apparent because each ad finished with a pack shot and the “Nestle Peel” end-frame, which all Nestle ads finish with. Furthermore, the reference in the second ad to “honey” meant consumers would be likely to realize that Honey Nut Shredded Wheat would be sweetened with honey, making it clear to the consumer that the “no added sugar” claim clearly only applied to the first ad.
The complaint was based on the view that the claim “no added salt or sugar” should apply to all products referred to in the ad. However, Clearcast felt that in this case, the ad’s presentation made it clear that it was made up of two separate and distinct sections, advertising two different products, which meant it would be clear to consumers that the “no added sugar” claim would apply to only the first section. In addition, as argued by Cereal Partners UK, Clearcast felt the statement in the second ad “topped with delicious honey” would make it clear to consumers that the second product advertised contained added sugar in the form of natural honey.
“Two Ads, one overarching claim”
The ASA, however, disagreed. The ASA pointed out that the theme of the ad remained constant throughout both of the sections, which would lead consumers to believe that the “no added sugar” claim applied to both products. Secondly, the ASA disagreed that the reference to honey would clarify that the claim “no added sugar” did not apply to the second ad, as the consumer would be likely to interpret this as meaning that the second product was only sweetened by natural honey with no additional sugar added. The ASA understood that this was not the case, and Honey Nut Shredded Wheat did contain additional sugar.
Therefore, the ASA ruled that the ad breached BCAP Code rule 13.4.1, that nutrition claims must comply with the criteria in the EU Register (see Regulation 1924/2006). The EU Register stipulates “no added sugar” is classed as a nutritional claim. The ad also breached BCAP Code rule 13.4.2, which states that claims of this nature in ads must be supported by documentary evidence to show that they meet the conditions set out in the EU Register. Further, the ads must not give a misleading impression of the nutrition or health benefits of the product and the claims must be presented clearly and without exaggeration.
Why this matters:
Advertisers who run ads that feature multiple products should be careful to ensure that they clarify, in the clearest terms possible, to which products relevant claims apply. CAP guidance on the sections of the CAP and BCAP Code dealing with nutritional and food claims, states that:
“Marketers must take care when seeking to make a statement regarding the ingredients of a product that they do not make an implied nutrition claim by presentation.”
Therefore, conjoining ads for different products, where one contains a nutritional claim that can be supported whilst the other product has no basis for the claim, could risk falling foul of the CAP and BCAP Codes.