Unqualified “healthy” claims for processed snack bars are confirmed as a no go area for TV ads following this ITC decision, but its verdict on a puffier “all good stuff” claim in the same ad looks questionable.
Who: Kelloggs and the ITC
When: May 2003
The ITC considered a complaint by one viewer in respect of an advertisement for Kellogg's Nutrigrain Elevenses Bar. The ad described the product as a "healthy snack with wholegrain oats, wheat and fruit" and ended by describing the product as "all good stuff". The BACC, when pre-vetting the commercial, had apparently taken advice from an independent nutritional consultant, who had expressed concern about describing a product containing high levels of sugar (38%) as "healthy".
On balance, however, the BACC took the view that "healthy" was justified. This was apparently because the bar was fortified with nutrigrains and iron, and appeared to be low in fat and contain more vitamins than some other snacks.
As for the "all good stuff" phrase, the BACC and its nutritional consultant both considered that the basic ingredients of the bar, consisting of whole grain oats, wheat and fruit was sufficient to justify it.
In its defence, Kelloggs also stated that the bar had no more sugar than a portion of some fruit, for example an orange.
The ITC acknowledged that there was no intention on the part of Kelloggs to mislead, but it did have concerns about the unqualified use of the term "healthy".
The ITC considered that the public generally understood foods such as fruit, vegetables, salad, fish etc. to be "healthy" but not processed snacks such as this.
In the light of other evidence put forward by Kelloggs which showed Elevenses in a better light than a number of other competing snack products, the ITC indicated that it might be prepared to live with "healthier", but "healthy" did not pass muster, in essence because this was a processed snack.
As for "all good stuff", the ITC was not quite so clear as to its reasoning. It found against the use of the phrase, but stated that "whilst it might in some circumstances be a legitimate reference to the substantially natural basic ingredients", it was not acceptable in conjunction with the absolute claim "healthy", "as it appeared to offer the claim unqualified support."
With respect, this reasoning is obscure in the extreme. If the phrase "all good stuff" is a legitimate reference to what the ITC accepts are potentially natural basic ingredient it is unclear as to why the use of the term "healthy" in another part of the voiceover renders the phrase misleading.
Why this matters:
The ITC's point about the use of the term "healthy" in connection with processed products is reasonably well made, but we do not completely follow the reasoning behind the position taken against "all good stuff", and we encourage the ITC to be slightly clearer in explaining its reasoning on findings like this during the last few months of its existence.