The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been accused of “failing to meet its duty to the public” after it rejected a complaint lodged against Premier Foods by the Real Bread Campaign.
The Campaign argued that a Hovis advert was misleading because it depicted a bakery in which individual loaves were handmade and featured the tag line: ‘Hovis. As good today as it’s always been.’ The Real Bread Campaign is a not-for-profit initiative encouraging bakers not to use additives, preservatives, flavouring, colourings and processing aids. It is co-ordinated by the UK charity Sustain.
The Real Bread Campaign’s working party chairman, Iain Loe said he was “shocked and saddened” by the decision to not uphold the complaint. “How can Hovis still be ‘as good today as it’s always been’ when 40% of the brand’s income now comes from additive-laden white loaves?” he said. “It seems to us that the ASA has chosen to ignore the facts and let Hovis mislead the public into thinking that it still produces real bread by hand.”
The ASA published its decision on December 16, stating that viewers would understand that the exact ingredients of contemporary Hovis products might differ from those used in a product from 1886. “We noted that the claim stated ‘as good today’, but not, for example, ‘the same recipe today’,” said the ASA.
“We considered that viewers were unlikely to infer from the ad, as a whole and in context, that Hovis products were manufactured in exactly the same way as they always had been or that the ingredients of the products within the ad were the same as those in the original Hovis Wheatgerm loaf. We concluded that they were unlikely to be misled by the claim in this respect.”
In its defence, Premier Foods said that it was proud of the continued high quality of its produce. In addition, the ASA said that it had received no other complaints against the advert.
On December 16, the ASA also rejected a complaint brought against Unliever in conjunction with the Flora pro.activ range and a TV advert promoting the website Floraheartage.com. The website features a heart age calculator, which Unilever claims gives consumers a “good measure of how healthy their heart is”.
This claim was challenged. One viewer did not believe the heart age website was operated by medically trained professionals; and five viewers believed the website would always produce enhanced ages to scare vulnerable consumers into purchasing the Flora pro.activ range.
The ASA decided not to uphold these complaints.