Posts for World Nutella Day appeared on the advertisers’ Instagram account:
“Nutella UK Ireland Instagram posts for World Nutella Day Feb 5th”
The first post featured a board with two hands creating the wording “World Nutella Day”.
Alongside the board there were items which had been spread with Nutella. These included pancakes, a jar of Nutella, a waffle on a plate with banana on top accompanied by more fruit on the side, a glass of what looked like milk and another glass with what appeared to be juice.
The text underneath read:
“Nutellauk Happy World Nutella Day. How are you celebrating with your family and friends?”
A video post featured emojis of:
“My Grandma, My Mum (with a Superhero cap and mask), My Grandad, My dad (with a Superhero cap and mask), My friends (dressed in dance clothes), My brother (wearing a crown), My love, My sister (wearing a crown), My family (two love hearts), My daughter, My boss (dressed as a Vampire)”
With the text;“Nutellauk World Nutella Day is coming! Who’s the special person you will celebrate with?”
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) complained about social media advertising for World Nutella Day. They referenced posts on Instagram which they considered were clearly designed with children in mind.
They referenced one post as an example which wished viewers a ‘Happy World Nutella Day’ (spelt out in child friendly alphabet letters covered in chocolate), and which became a video of flashing images showing “My Mum” and “My Dad” cartoons dressed as superheroes and an image of “My Friends” looking like 5 year olds.
The IHF considered that this was clearly addressed to children under 16 and so by suggesting that children celebrate World Nutella Day, which they considered a marketing gimmick, with friends and family, the brand was clearly placing pressure on children to have Nutella on this day.
The complainants referenced the ASAI Code requirement that marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and questioned how this post was allowed to continue with a problem of child obesity in society?
They considered that the advertising was clearly irresponsible and designed for and addressed to children, through the use of imagery, colours and pictures.
The advertisers said that the Ferrero Group, which includes Ferrero UK and Ireland, was committed to responsible advertising and accordingly it was their policy to direct all advertising and marketing communications to adults. They said that to have an Instagram account, users had to be over the age of 13. They reviewed their Instagram page on a regular basis to analyse their audience data and to ensure their advertising was not targeted at users under the age of 18. They said that 85% of their followers were 18 or above, 15% were aged between 13-17. Based on this data they concluded that the vast majority of users were adults and therefore their advertising had been targeted at adults, including parents.
The advertisers provided a breakdown of their audience with their response for the information of the ASAI.
The advertisers said that it was of paramount importance to them that their advertising was not targeted at children and they disagreed that their advertising had been irresponsible in any fashion.
The advertisers said that they disagreed the images used in the posts were cartoon like or appealing to children. They had adopted their own emoji type characters which they considered had become commonplace within written conversations and other types of exchanges amongst adults. They said that the use of such characters could not be affirmed specifically to younger generations. They said that apart from the images provided there had been other texts which read not only ‘my dad’ and ‘my mom’ but also ‘my love’, ‘my son’, ‘my daughter’, ‘my boss’, ‘my family’. They said that these texts had been included as they were targeted at their adult audience on Instagram.
In relation to the alphabet letters which had been used to create the refence to “World Nutella Day, the advertisers said that these had been cut-outs from pieces of toast with standard cookie cutters used by parents, or when supervising their children, due to the sharp edges. They said that the letters had not been covered in chocolate but had been decorated with Nutella. They said that the hands which had been placing the letters on the board were adult hands, and that Nutella was displayed on a table alongside other items including fruit.
In relation to their “World Nutella Day” being classed as a ‘marketing gimmick’, the advertisers said that this was not the case. They said the day had been established by an American blogger, who loved the product and had brought together all Nutella fans from around the world to celebrate their passion for Nutella once a year.
The advertisers said that Nutella was not a ‘chocolate’ product as stated in the complaint, it was in fact a hazelnut and cocoa spread and classified as a ‘spread’ and located with the spreads in the supermarket aisles. They said it was comparable to other sweet and savoury products such as jam, peanut butter and honey. They said it was not a ‘confectionery’ product.
In conclusion the advertisers said they considered that they had acted responsibly in the development of their advertising. The content had been developed to safeguard the limited portion of the audience that may be under 18 and to ensure that the vast majority of the audience was over 18. They said they had not promoted their product as being health nor had they denigrated a healthy lifestyle.
They said that “World Nutella Day” occurred once a year and there had been nothing in their posts to advise children to buy or ask their parents to buy Nutella for them. They had not referred to their product as being ‘healthy’ nor had they encouraged poor nutritional habits. They reiterated that their product was not a confectionery product nor was it consumed on its own but rather it was spread on other food products.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The noted that “World Nutella Day” was held once a year and that it had been started by a fan of the product and not by the advertisers.
The Committee noted the media in question and that 85% of the audience were adult.
The Committee noted that in Post 1, a range of foods had been portrayed and that the hands featured in the advertisement were adult’s hands.
In relation to the use of emojis in the Video Post (Post 2), they noted that emoji characters were used by both adults and children. They did not consider that the emojis created for the campaign were specifically targeted or appealing to children.
In assessing the advertising in the light of its probable effect when taken as a whole and in context (Section 2.4c), the Committee did not consider that the advertising was addressed to children nor that it placed pressure on them to have Nutella.
In the circumstances, the Committee did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code.
No further action was required in this case.