The consequences of misleading advertising – a discussion of Iceland’s #Powerof Frozen campaign

29th October 2015

A recent Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decision concerning Iceland’s print and video adverts highlights the importance of ensuring your advertising is not misleading.

 

Iceland’s recent advertising campaign was investigated by the ASA for misleading customers about the nature of the ingredients and production process involved in making their “artisan” bread. The campaign involved a print and video advert. It was ruled that the video advert was misleading.

The print advert included the line “Frozen brings you freshly baked artisan bread straight from your oven”. The word “artisan” was the issue, as it is defined as “a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand; or (of food and drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanised way using high-quality ingredients”. The ASA did not agree that the use of the word artisan was misleading, deciding that customers would know that this meant “premium”, as Iceland is a well-established brand that customers know mass produce their products. This is a somewhat surprising decision, and it remains to be seen if this approach will be taken when interpreting terms used in other adverts.

The video advert caused Iceland more problems. The video appeared to be shot inside a windmill, with a baker hand making the bread and saying “we want to go back to the roots of baking”. This combination was sufficient for a consumer reasonably to believe that the bread is hand-baked before being frozen. As this is not the case, the ASA held it to be misleading.

Although the ASA was more lenient with Iceland’s campaign than might have been expected, the ruling that the video advert was misleading highlights the importance of determining what is reasonably implied by the adverts. The ASA appears to be taking a common sense approach that if consumers can reasonably assume that visuals included or terms/ statements used in advertising relate to the product, it will be misleading if these processes or ingredients differ from the processes and ingredients actually used.

As a summary, these are a few warning signs that your advertising might be misleading:

  • you make claims for which you have some evidence but it is not widely supported, or you have carried out very limited surveys or tests;
  • you include photographs, footage or allude to a connection with a particular person or place with which your product does not relate;
  • you imply that a particular process or set of ingredients is involved in the making of your product, when this is not the case; or
  • you include a list of ingredients/ components to your product implying that this is the full list, when this is not the case. This will specifically apply if your product claims to be organic/ ethical, if some of the ingredients do not meet this standard.

If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in this article or would like assistance with updating your terms of business please contact Rebecca Anforth, head of Intellectual Property, on 01872 226999 or rebecca@murrellassociates.co.uk

or Melanie Brown, author of the article.

The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Any law quoted in this article is correct as at 29 October 2015. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances before any action is taken. Copyright © Murrell Associates Limited, October 2015.

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