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Product: Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (Milk)
Advertiser: National Dairy Council (NDC)
Medium: On Demand TV
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.31, 4.32
A television advertisement was set in a café where two young women were at the counter.
One of the women (Lauren) said “I’m going natural. I’m getting a nut milk latte today”
A young girl, Daisy appears at the counter and addresses Lauren, stating “Is this what I think it is Lauren?”
Daisy: “You bet it’s me. Now lose the fakester glasses and read this”
Daisy is holding a carton of nut milk and a carton of dairy milk. She hands the carton of nut milk to Lauren.
Lauren appears to be a little embarrassed and says of her glasses: “They’re prescription”
Daisy is shown to slightly shake her head in disapproval.
Lauren is then shown with the glasses on her head while she counts out the number of ingredients in the nut milk, stating: “Nut milk contains one, two, three…”
Daisy is portrayed as being slightly impatient and disapproving while Lauren is counting the number of ingredients.
Lauren: “twelve ingredients, twelve?
Daisy then asks Lauren “and how many in real milk?” and hands Lauren the carton of dairy milk.
Lauren: “Just one, milk”
Daisy sighs and says “Finally”
Lauren proceeds to hand back her nut milk latte and says “A normal latte it is then”
Daisy says: “You’re a real natural now Lauren”
Daisy then smacks herself in the face.
Small text on screen during the advertisement: “As part of a balanced diet, a daily 200ml glass of milk contains the nutrients calcium, protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B5, iodine, potassium and phosphorus”.
On screen text and voiceover by Daisy: “Irish Dairy The Complete Natural”
The complainant considered that the advertising was misleading on the basis that it had stated nut milk contains 12 ingredients. The complainant considered that the advertisement was generalising all nut milks and that while some nut milks contained 12 ingredients, some brands contained only 2 or 3 ingredients.
The advertisers stated that the campaign had been designed with a specific audience in mind, young females who had in recent years been bombarded with online messages and misinformation. They referred to research conducted which found that they were seen as a trusted source of information across all ages. They said that the intended probable effect was to draw the consumers’ attention to the fact that non-dairy milk substitutes were not the same as dairy milk in terms of composition. Therefore, they focused on a general difference of whole milk and ‘nut milk’, without specifying particular brands on both.
They referred to research they commissioned to explore attitudes to dairy across the Irish population. They said that the results indicated that milk avoidance was observed among 21% of those surveyed, while 10% of the sample believed that milk was ‘not good for you’. They said that the negative sentiments towards dairy was skewed towards females under the age of 24 years who lived in the Dublin and Leinster region. To address this they created the character ‘Daisy’ who talks to a young woman chosen as identifiable with their target audience. This young woman was unaware that the products are nutritionally different so the advertisement shows her being surprised that the ingredients list does not contain the same number of ingredients.
They said that the advertisement was not intended to mislead or create any ambiguity. They stated that the comparison in the advertisement did not make any unqualified superlative claims. They said that non-dairy milk substitutes were often referred to by the consumer as ‘milk’, which could potentially give rise to the consumer understanding that the products were equivalent and that non-dairy milk substitutes are a nutritionally adequate replacement for milk. They said that the purpose of the comparison was to highlight that the products were different, with distinct ingredients and therefore, distinct nutritional compositions. They also said that it highlighted that milk was composed of a single ingredient (milk, formed by nature), while the ‘nut milk’ was composed of a range of ingredients (manufactured composition). They said that ‘nut milks’ with 2 or 3 ingredients were generally organic or artisan varieties, which were unfortified and that while they were void of the stabilisers, emulsifiers and sweeteners found in the most commonly consumed alternative products, they were also void in many of the nutrients which were naturally present in milk.
They said that the figure of 12 ingredients was based on the number of ingredients present in the most common nut drink sold by the leading non-dairy milk substitutes brand in Ireland. They said that at no point in the advertisement had they claimed that all nut milks were the same or that all had 12 ingredients. They said that the script had specifically referred to the example in the young woman’s hand, which was scientifically selected as being representative of the category, therefore, while the example used was generic, the advertisement made no suggestion that it represented every brand or variety available. In order to ensure fairness, they said that the comparison had included the most common consumer variety of both dairy milk and non-dairy milk substitutes and they had focused on a general difference of whole milk and nut milk without specifying particular brands on both and based the comparison on the most commonly consumed varieties. They said that they did not include a discussion on the detailed nutritional information or specific ingredients as they may be unfamiliar to some consumers. As the ingredients list was clearly stated on all product packaging, they did not believe that excluding them from the advertisement was misleading.
The advertisers referred to research they conducted on a cross-section of products and that they used data based on Nutritics Professional Nutrition Analysis Software to establish representative composition which could be used to describe the products in their generic form. They said that specialised versions of both milk and dairy alternatives existed but for the purpose of what was widely available in coffee shops, the standard version of each was used. They said that they believed that it was clear that the reference to the ‘nut milk’ and dairy milk was referring specifically to the two generic forms available in that specific coffee shop and not the whole category of individual products. They did not believe that the comparison had made any unqualified superlative claim as non-dairy milk substitutes were often referred to by the consumer as ‘milk’, which could potentially give rise to the consumer understanding that the products are equivalent and that non-dairy milk substitutes were a nutritionally adequate replacement for milk. They said that the purpose of the comparison was to highlight that these products were different, with distinct ingredients and distinct nutritional compositions. They also said that when making general nutritional comparisons, the usual scientific approach was to use the most commonly consumed original or standard version of each product and that had been the approach taken for this advertisement.
Finally, they stated that their Nutrition Manager had several years of experience working in nutrition research and had worked on data for Ireland’s National Nutrition Survey’s conducted by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance. They said that in these surveys, where there was an absence of brand data, the standard approach was to use the generic composition or leading brand composition, as done in this case.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the purpose of the advertisement was to encourage the advertisers’ target audience to consider dairy milk as part of their diet and in doing so had included a comparison of dairy milk with one “nut milk” and that the usual scientific approach was to use the most commonly consumed original or standard version of each product. While the Committee noted the usual scientific approach in the absence of brand data, the Code required that the basis of the selection of the comparison should be clear. As the advertisement had not made this basis clear by indicating that the products chosen were the most commonly consumed, they considered the advertisement had given the impression that all nut milks had 12 ingredients and was therefore in breach of Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10 and 4.32 of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form. The Committee reminded the advertisers to ensure that the basis of a comparison is clear to consumers.