Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Sugar Peddling Kelloggs Pull 'Misleading' Advert

Arch sugar-peddlers and all round nutritional charlatans, Kelloggs, have been rapped on the knuckles by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority for a recent poster and print advert in which misleading statements were made about their Nutri-Grain Soft Oaties biscuits. The watchdog banned the adverts, ruling that they were likely to mislead consumers. Guardian.co.uk has the full story here and another take on it can be seen here.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

The offending statements were

wholesome cookie goodness

and

made with oats and wheat, source of fibre, 6 B vitamins and iron

Here is the Guardian's quote from the ASA:

By referring only to those ingredients that could convey a nutritional benefit without also referring to those that might have a negative impact on health, the ad could imply the snack was wholly beneficial to health or that the Soft Oaties with Oat & Chocolate Chip were healthier than they were.

Apparently, the ASA accepted that the ingredients list was accurate, but said the product was also high in sugar, fat and saturated fat.
New Front
This is great news. For me opens up a new front in the war against companies who mislead consumers about the healthiness of their foods. This is the first time I have been aware of a company being taken to task on a statement like this - normally they seem to be able to throw the word healthy around with impunity and refer to ingredients selectively in a flagrant attempt to mislead the ignorant and the derail the weak-willed.

I also like the fact that this ruling was driven by complaints both from the public and from a food campaigner at Which? This tells me people are starting to take advantage of the mechanisms available to make a difference.

Over the last year I have complained directly to a number of companies about their marketing foods as healthy when they contain unhealthy ingredients. The targets of my campaigns have been companies whose ethos is supposedly one of health and therefore whose efforts to mislead seem most morally unacceptable.
Different Route
Needless to say, the majority of the offenders have ignored me (Roll Call of Shame: Companies Who Don't Listen). If I can find the time, I will pursue a route closer to the one we have seen in action here. The rationale applied by the ASA potentially applies to some of the products about which I have been complaining, albeit that the issue in those cases is more one of marketing than advertising and therefore probably falls outside the ASA's remit.

I will find out more.

See Also:
Campaigns
Roll Call of Shame: Companies Who Don't Listen

6 comments:

Son of Grok said...

Another tool in war against the sugar pushers! I really just hope this isn't fighting evil with nukes. We could be hurt still by the radiation. By that , I am mean that they attacked fat content as being bad and unhealthy..

The SoG

Asclepius said...

With a product called 'Nutri-Grain' (which MUST be nutritious and full of grains - and EVERYONE knows grains are good for you), how can these cookies NOT be healthy? ;)

I mean Soft-Oaties obviously have oats in them which Joe Bloggs KNOWS is essential for health. Even the packaging conveys a country-cooking, wholesome image. The reality is that these bad boys are machine pressed in a warehouse in Swindon (or somewhere).

It does irritate that Kellogg's would use the old "this product should be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle", excuse.

As SoG notes, it also irritates that once again fat - and in particular saturated fat, is implicated in the deception.

Kellogg's thrives on the grain is good misconception that is out there. It is about time this message was reigned in a bit.

Methuselah said...

That's a good point guys - I was so focused on the fact that the ASA had acknowledged the bullsh*t in the advertising that I overlooked that

a) some of the supposedly healthy ingredients are not actually healthy, and

b) one of the supposedly unhealthy ingredients is in fact fine to eat

The brings into sharp focus the numbers of layers of faecal matter we are going to have to wade through before the truth is acknowledged. Lies about lies. Now I'm a little less buoyed by this story.

Nathan said...

Although I agree with the ads being pulled, anyone who thinks that a cookie could ever be healthy is an idiot. They're nice because they're so bad for you!

Cathy said...

I don't know what's worse... that they put out these misleading allegations or that people actually buy into it?

Nice blog :)

Methuselah said...

Cathy - neither do I. But the difference is that first one makes me angry whereas the second makes me sad!

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