A Tesco fresh bread press ad was headlined “Baked from scratch in our in store bakery.” The Real Bread Campaign complained to the ASA that only 480 Tesco stores did this out of over 2000 in the UK. Did Tesco’s small print stating “….products not baked from scratch excluded” get them off the hook? Omar Bucchioni reports.
Topic: Misleading advertising
Who: Tesco Stores Ltd.
When: July 2010
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
Law stated as at: 31 July 2010
Recently the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated a Tesco press advert which stated “Fresh bread. Baked from scratch in our in store bakery. Using 100% British flour. So every single loaf is genuinely British … Born and bread”. The small print stated “Subject to availability. Selected UK stores. British Flour used in all products that are baked from scratch in store as stickered in pack. French Baguettes, Batons and products not baked from scratch excluded”.
The Real Bread Campaign (RBC) challenged whether:
a) the advert misleadingly implied that bread was “Baked from scratch” in all stores, whereas RBC understood only 480 Tesco stores baked bread out of well over 2000 Tesco outlets in the UK; and
b) the advert was misleading because the claim “Baked from scratch in our in store bakery. Using 100% British flour” did not apply to all loaves and they believed the small print contradicted rather than clarified the headline claim.
What Tesco had to say:
a) Tesco said that bread was baked from scratch in 504 of its in-store bakeries, predominantly in its larger stores. In 1,288 stores, Tesco said they used part-baked, or “bake-off”, bread which was “finished” in the in-store bakery. Tesco explained that most of their stores had a bakery facility.
Tesco believed that the small print in the ad explained what a “scratch bakery” was and made clear that those loaves were available in selected stores. They also said that “scratch bakery” loaves were stickered as such in-store to help consumers differentiate them from other “bake-off” products. Tesco went on to explain that some speciality varieties of bread could not be practically made from base ingredients in-store so were not included in the overall claim.
b) Tesco also said that only British flour was used to produce their bread, regardless of whether it was “scratch bakery” or “bake-off”, except for speciality breads such as organic loaves, French baguettes and ciabatta bread.
Tesco believed the small print clarified the extent of the claim so the ad would not mislead readers and confirmed that every single scratch baked loaf was British and therefore argued that the claim was accurate and not misleading.
What the ASA had to say:
a) The ASA investigated “bake-off” and “scratch bakery” loaves.
The former, were baked at another site then chilled or frozen, and finally re-baked or “finished” on the premises.
The latter, were prepared and baked freshly from base ingredients on site.
The ASA felt that the claim was likely to be interpreted by readers as meaning that all Tesco stores with an in-store bakery baked their loaves from scratch when in fact this was not true since “only” 504 stores baked bread “from scratch”.
b) The ASA went on to hold that speciality breads were not baked solely from British flour, nor were they baked from scratch and Tesco rightly excluded them from the overall claim stating in the small print “French Baguettes, Batons and products not baked from scratch excluded”.
In addition, the ASA found that non-speciality loaves, either “scratch bakery” or “bake-off” products, were all made from 100% British flour so the small print did not contradict the headline claim.
Why this matters:
Although Tesco fell on the right side of the line in this case, the ASA has sent a clear message that advertisers need to make sure that small print is used to clarify the headline claim not contradict it.
The case is reported on the ASA website.