The Rebel Whopper was launched on Twitter and Facebook early this year to coincide with “Veganuary”, with the ads declaring: “You asked and we listened. Introducing the Rebel Whopper, our first plant-based burger.”
An image of the burger was also posted alongside a sticker hailing:”100% Whopper. No beef.” Similar posts heralded the Rebel Whopper as “tastes of being woke” and “powered by the vegetarian butcher”, with a smaller text beneath stating: “T&Cs apply.”
However, ten people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the plant-based promises were misleading because the Rebel Whopper is cooked alongside meat products, leading to cross contamination. Aside from vegans, the burgers are not suitable for people with egg allergies either, because they contain egg-based mayonnaise.
In response to the ASA enquiries, Burger King chiefs insisted that the small print on the ads explained that the Rebel Whopper may not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians, and this was communicated to customers on social media in later posts.
Burger King also opted to remove the “vegetarian butcher” logo from the TV ads because it was considered potentially misleading to fast-food fans, and added that customers could always request no mayonnaise, too.
However, the ASA was not impressed. It said: “The green colour palette and the timing of the ad and product release to coincide with ‘Veganuary’ contributed to the impression that the product was suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
“We considered [that the small print] was not sufficiently prominent to override the overall impression that the burger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans.”
Banning the ads from appearing again in their current form, the ASA warned Burger King to ensure it did not misleadingly imply a product was suitable for vegans and vegetarians if it was not.
‘Gross’ mouldy Whopper ad gives Burger King the edge
Burger King is splattered over Farage milkshake-gate
Firm gets stiff rebuke for ‘cycling makes you a flop’ ad
E.On forced to pull plug on press ad after history rewrite
‘Double busy’ ASA reveals fresh spike in online gripes