A post on the advertisers’ Instagram platform featured 5 lunchboxes; each box contained a slice of pizza with what looked like a pepperoni topping and a small tub of sauce on the side. The text above the boxes stated:
“I’m really getting into this meal prep thing…”
The text to the right hand side of the boxes read:
“apachepizzaireland Did you have enough self-control to keep some slices for your Monday work lunch? If not there's always next week!”
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) objected to the post. They said that it was irresponsible to suggest that meal preparation should take the form of pizza slices every time. They said that the ASAI Code specifically advised that brands should not condone excess consumption, should not encourage an unhealthy lifestyle or encourage unhealthy eating habits. In addition brands should not disparage good dietary advice. The IHF said that this type of marketing should be prevented, especially as young teenagers may view the post and be influenced by its contents.
The advertisers said that having investigated the complaint they decided to immediately withdraw the post from all platforms as it had never been their intention to encourage unhealthy eating habits.
The advertisers said they would also ensure that all future posts did not condone excessive eating and adhere to all guidelines.
The ASAI Executive noted that guidance (1) on using the Food Pyramid from Healthy Ireland and the Department of Health stated:
“The Food Pyramid shows how much of what you eat overall should come from each shelf to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. The shape of the Food Pyramid shows the types of foods and drinks people need to eat most for healthy eating. It is divided into six shelves and each provides you with the range of nutrients and energy needed for good health.
Healthy eating is all about choosing the right amounts from each shelf.
Following the Food Pyramid doesn’t mean that you need to achieve balance with every meal, but aim to get the balance right over the day and over the week. Small changes can make a big difference.”
Complaint upheld in part.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint, the advertisers’ response and the fact that the post had been withdrawn.
The Complaints Committee noted that advertisement depicted five boxes, each with only one slice of pizza. While the headline referred to “keep some slices for your Monday work lunch”, which could imply a recommendation that all five boxes should be consumed in one sitting, the Committee considered that the visual representation, together with the main headline “I’m really getting into this meal prep thing….”, implied five separate meals. On that basis they did not consider that the advertisement encouraged or condoned excess consumption.
The Committee also noted, however, that a mixed and varied diet was recommended as good dietary practice. While Food Pyramid guidance stated “Following the Food Pyramid doesn’t mean that you need to achieve balance with every meal, but aim to get the balance right over the day and over the week.” , the Committee considered that in potentially suggesting that each lunch should consist solely of a pizza slice, the advertisement had encouraged an unhealthy/unbalanced eating habit and was therefore in breach of Section 8.4 of the Code.
As the advertisement had been withdrawn, no further action was required.