Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ASA Cannot Digest Nestle's Cereal Ad

The Advertising Standards Authority has told Nestle it cannot continue to run the ads for its whole grain cereals in their present form. The agency said the ads are misleading. Read more here, and here in the ASA's ruling. Here's an excerpt.

We noted that the studies cited by Cereal Partners and Clearcast supported the view that an increased consumption of wholegrain foods was likely to be beneficial to health. We also noted that some of those studies had gone so far as to recommend a specific daily quantity of wholegrain foods for adults, and that the American Dietetic Association in particular recommended that adults should consume three 16 g portions of wholegrain foods per day. We noted Cereals Partners' argument that the claim made in the ad referred to wholegrain as an ingredient, and was therefore not a nutritional claim. Nevertheless, we considered that viewers were likely to interpret the claims made in the ad as nutritional, i.e. that there were recognised health benefits to be gained by consuming three portions of wholegrain a day. We understood, however, that there were no formal UK Government recommendations relating to the precise manner in which sufficient amounts of wholegrain food should be eaten on a daily basis; nor were there any current plans to adopt such a recommendation. We also understood that that was because the fibre found in wholegrain was available in a wide range of other foods, including fruit and vegetables, and that it might be preferable for consumers to get fibre from those sources, rather than from specific wholegrain foods that might contain other, less beneficial, ingredients. We considered that the ad implied that there was a consensus of opinion among experts regarding the specific quantity of wholegrain foods that should be consumed on a daily basis. However, we understood that only some experts had recommended that specific amounts of wholegrain should be eaten on a daily basis, and that others, such as the FSA, had made a broader recommendation that people should increase their intake of fibre in general. Because of that, and because we considered that the similarity between the "3-a-day" phrase used in the ad and the Government's "5-a-day" recommendation for fruit and vegetables could cause confusion among viewers, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence) and 8.3.1 (a), (b) and (d) (Accuracy in food advertising).

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

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