Food and Beverage Code gets cereal ad test

Posted by Isobel Drake on 24th July 2009

Breakfast continues to be a source of debate between cereal companies and obesity lobbyists, with the Advertising Standards Board asked to use the AANA Food and Beverage Code to settle the score.

And Kellogg’s has won the latest battle.

“A complaint about claims and nutritional benefits of a breakfast cereal has resulted in a determination in favour of the cereal company based on the Board’s understanding of how the target audience would interpret the advertisement,” Advertising Standards Bureau, Chief Executive Officer, Ms Fiona Jolly said.

In making its determination the Board considered detailed submissions from both the complainant and the advertiser about three Kellogg’s Nutrigrain advertisements.

“The complainant argued that the product contains high levels of sugar and salt and is not a healthy product overall and that the advertiser makes selective claims about certain nutrients to create a misleading impression that the product is healthy. This raised a number of interesting issues for the Board,” Ms Jolly advised.

“In determining whether an advertisement is truthful the Board’s task is to reflect the community’s attitude – to assess whether the advertisements meet current community expectations for truthfulness given the message the advertisements convey to ordinary consumers.”

Ms Jolly said the Board considered that the impression a consumer would take from these advertisements is that this cereal is appropriate for active children as part of a balanced diet and that a reasonable consumer would not see the advertisement as creating the ‘impression of healthiness’ but rather that the product can be consumed by active children as part of a balanced diet. The Board considered that this message was not misleading or deceptive.

The Board also needed to consider whether an advertisement is required to list all nutrition or ingredient information of a product.

“In the Board’s view the community does not expect that an advertisement for a food product will list all, most or even the most significant elements of the food, but it does expect that the information that is presented is correct,” Ms Jolly said.

“As parents, carers and members of the community themselves, the Board recognises concern in the community about obesity.”

“The Board’s view is that it is still a community expectation that advertisements are designed to raise consumer interest in a product but are not expected to be the source of all information on which a consumer will base their purchasing decisions. The complete information about the product will be found in store or on the label and packaging material,” Ms Jolly concluded.

Information about the complaints process and a full list of the advertisements considered are on the ASB website: under ‘Case Reports’.