Whoever had the brainwave to insist that meet-free brand Quorn could help reduce a person’s carbon footprint and was a “step in the right direction” has ended up with a size 9 up the jacksie from the ad watchdog after it branded the claim misleading.
The film for Marlow Foods-owned Quorn Thai Wonder Grains was made by Mawhinney Collins and aired in April. It featured a woman eating the product at her office desk, a novelty itself these days, who says: “Quorn Thai Wonder Grains is a step in the right direction because it helps us reduce our carbon footprint and that’s got to be good.”
She is then joined by two female colleagues who also tuck into their own pots, as the voiceover states: “If you care about climate change, take a step in the right direction with new Quorn Wonder Grains.”
On screen, text added: “Quorn Wonder Grains. Awarded carbon reduction footprint certification by the Carbon Trust for the full life cycle of the product. See Quorn.co.uk/TV for details.”
However, 32 viewers were so miffed by the claims that they rifled off complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, questioning whether the product could help a person’s carbon footprint and whether claims about a beneficial effect on climate change were misleading.
In response, Marlow Foods’ insisted that the Thai Wonder Grains brand was certified by the Carbon Trust as “cradle to grave” for its full lifecycle. It added that, as this was a new product, there is no recertification figure, but, by signing up to the carbon footprint protocol, the company had a continued commitment to reduce carbon emission on the product – meaning that over time the product would help people reduce its carbon footprint.
But the ASA was having none of it, ruling that these details were not clear from the TV ad. The regulator said: “Viewers would interpret the claim as a comparison against one or more other, similar, products, such that by choosing to buy a Quorn Thai Wonder Grains pot over a different product, consumers could reduce their carbon footprint immediately.”
The ASA added that because the Thai Wonder Grains pot was a new product, it was not actually possible to demonstrate a reduction in its footprint, and the certification for that product related only to Quorn’s commitment to reduce the footprint over time. “We did not consider this was clear from the ad,” the watchdog stressed.
Ruling that the ad must not appear again in its current form, the ASA also warned Marlow about its future conduct. The Quorn global creative account is now being handled by Adam & Eve/DDB.
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