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Product: Food & Beverages
Advertiser: Ferrero UK Limited
Medium: Social Media (Company’s own channels)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.3, 8.16(a), 8.16(b), 8.18
The Nutella advertisement, which was posted on the advertisers’ Youtube channel, takes place in a Christmas-decorated kitchen. In a close up shot of a kitchen table, a jar of Nutella is seen with a picture of a reindeer wearing a chef's hat. Beside it there is a plate with a couple of slices of Christmas-tree shaped bread with Nutella spread on them. A man is seen in a background doing some kitchen work in a robe, with his back turned.
A boy appears from under the table in his pyjamas, a reindeer antlers cap and a smile on his face. He takes a bite of one of the slices and nods. We see the man smiling and shaking his head.
“This Christmas spread some extra happiness at breakfast with fun and festive special addition Nutella jars. Nutella - spread happiness.”
Onscreen: Enjoy as part of a balanced breakfast.
Complaint Issue 1:
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) considered that the advertisement was encouraging kids to consume the product during breakfast in addition to the tagline “as part of balanced breakfast”. They considered this was in breach of the ASAI Code as brands should not encourage unhealthy eating habits in children and considered the advertisement was doing this by encouraging children to eat chocolate first thing in the morning.
Complaint Issue 2:
A consumer complainant considered the advertisement to be misleading and targeting children with a statement ‘Spread Happiness’ by indirectly attempting to link having Nutella spread on toast for breakfast equalling happiness.
Complaint Issue 3:
The consumer complainant also considered the statement ‘Enjoy as part of a balanced breakfast’ to be misleading and inappropriate as they said that a high fat and high sugar food should not form part of children’s breakfast.
The advertisers emphasised that the Ferrero Group was committed to responsible advertising, including the compliance with the Code and their own pledges and commitments. They said that it was Ferrero’s policy to direct all advertising and marketing communications related to Nutella to adults.
They confirmed with their media buying agency that they did not purchase any advertising on YouTube in Ireland in December 2018. They said that in regards to advertising on YouTube, users had to be at least 16 years old to have an account on this platform, and that in addition to the platform age gate they worked with their media buying agency to ensure all communications were clearly targeted at over 18s by selection of the content before, during or after which advertisements were shown. They said they ensured that the content selection considered who the content was directed and appealed to. They further said that, in line with the spirit of the ASAI Code and their own Group commitments, they ensured the content of their advertising did not target children through the communication style, the general look and feel, and the message delivered. The advertisers said that they regularly assess their audience data to ensure that their advertising is not targeted to under 18s and by way of example showed data demonstrating that their Instagram page (one of the channels mentioned in the complaints) as 85% 18 and above.
The advertisers said that the advertisement in question was produced for a special occasion and that since they were advertising their product in the context of a special occasion, they could not be encouraging daily consumption of Nutella. They considered that in order for the advertisements to be properly evaluated, it was important to bear in mind the context on which the advertisements in question had been aired and the situation it represented.
They said that Christmas was an occasion where families liked to treat each other with special meals different to their normal routines. They said the voiceover in the advertisement made it clear they talked about consuming the product over the Christmas period and not as a part of the breakfast every day. They pointed to the super which appeared in the advertisement stating ‘Enjoy as part of a balanced breakfast’ to ensure the message was properly received and to make it clear to viewers that they did not recommend eating only Nutella for breakfast.
The advertisers said that in addition they communicated that one portion of Nutella was equal to one teaspoon or 15g of Nutella on all of their packs. They said that for consistency they only ever used one portion of Nutella in any food items shown in their advertisements.
The advertisers said they have acted responsibly in the placement of the advertisement and that the approach to media purchasing and advertising was to ensure they had done everything that would be expected of a responsible advertiser to ensure that the vast majority of their audience is over the age of 18. They said the content had been responsibly developed in order to safeguard the limited portion of the audience that may have been under the age of 18. They said the advertisement was aimed and directed at parents which was clear from the context and the way the actors and product was depicted within the advertisement.
In relation to the issues raised at Complaint Issues 1 and 3, the advertisers said that they did not promote their products in the advertisement as being healthy, nor did they denigrate a healthy lifestyle or encourage an unhealthy lifestyle. They said that the advertisement was centred specifically on a special occasion which occurs once per year, and not every day meal times.
Regarding the content of the advertisement, the advertisers said that the father was preparing a breakfast treat for himself, and that this was clearly a treat for a special occasion as the toast was pictured as cut out in a shape of the Christmas tree. They said that the child was seen sneaking up to the plate while father was making a cup of coffee, picking up a slice and taking a bite. They said that they did not show the child consuming all the product or sitting at a table consuming just the product. They said they believed the child eating from his father’s plate while his back was turned showed a cheeky side of children and permissibility of having a treat for special occasions at breakfast. They said that it was clear from the next scene, where the father turned around to look at his child, and from the context, that the food consumption happened under parent supervision.
In relation to the nature and purpose of the product, the advertisers advised that Nutella was not a ‘chocolate’ product as stated by the complainant, but a hazelnut and coca spread. They said that the product was classified as a spread which was located in the spread aisles in supermarkets and was comparable to other sweet and savoury spreads such as jam, peanut butter and honey, and should not be considered as a confectionery product nor singled out for special treatment as a single product in this popular category. They said that confectionery and spread products were very different in the way that they were used and consumed, and that Nutella was not a confectionery product. They said Nutella was not consumed on its own but spread upon other food products such as toast, porridge, pancakes, etc. as per recommended single portion which was communicated on all of their packs.
In relation to the issue raised at Complaint Issue 2, - the phrase ‘spread happiness’ the advertisers said that that the voiceover stated, “This Christmas, spread some happiness at breakfast with fun and festive Nutella jars”, which made it clear they were advertising a product for Christmas. They said they did not make any claims about the potential benefits from consumption of the product and were clearly referring to the festive and limited jars which may have added some extra happiness at Christmas. They said that in this context the reference to happiness was not in reference to the product consumption but the joyful atmosphere of Christmas, for which the festive jars were designed. They said that it was clear throughout the advertisement that Nutella was permissible treat as a part of a balanced breakfast. They said that it was inherent that since they were advertising their product in the context of a special occasion occurring once per year they were not encouraging daily consumption of Nutella.
In conclusion, the advertisers said that they did not regard the advertisement in question was directed to children and did not believe they promoted the food products as being healthy, nor denigrate a healthy lifestyle or encourage unhealthy lifestyle. In addition, they said that they did not believe that the advertisement in question was misleading or that they made claims regarding the benefits of consuming Nutella.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. The Committee also noted the audience demographic for the advertisers’ social media pages.
Complaint Issue 1: Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted the Christmas themes in the advertisement and that the advertisement related to a time of special occasion rather than depicting daily consumption. The Committee noted that the breakfast had been prepared by the parent for his consumption using only one portion of the product and that while the child had taken some, excess consumption had not been depicted. The Committee did not consider, therefore, that the advertising encouraged unhealthy eating habits in children.
Complaint Issue 2: Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted the Christmas themes in the advertisement and the “This Christmas, spread some extra happiness at breakfast with fun and festive Nutella jars”. They noted that the Code required that marketing communications should not mislead children as to the potential benefits from consumption of the product, either physical, socially or psychologically (8.16b). The Committee assessed whether the advertising was targeted at children and noted the audience demographic information provided by the advertisers. They did not consider that the advertising was targeted at children.
Complaint Issue 3: Not Upheld
The Complaints Committee noted that product was consumed with other products, and that it was not intended to be consumed on its own. They did not consider that the phrase “Enjoy as part of a balanced breakfast” was likely to mislead. While they noted the complainant considered that the product should not form part of a child’s breakfast, they did not consider that the depiction in an advertisement of a single portion of the product was in breach of the Code.
No further action required.