Supermarket Forced to Withdraw Sausage Ad

UK - The Advertising Standards Authority has investigated complaints that a television advertisement from Tesco about its sausages is misleading and may not be shown again.
calendar icon 14 September 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

According to ASA, a Tesco TV ad, for sausages, viewed on 11 May 2011 had a voice-over that stated: "Why not try specially selected, British farmed, expertly produced, deliciously fresh butcher's choice bangers on your barbie? Quality and freshness at Tesco ..." The ad contained a scene that showed pigs roaming in a field. Three pigs were then shown in a hay barn and walking with a farmer down a lane. A sign that displayed the name of the farm was also shown.

Four complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading because they believed the meat used for Tesco branded sausages came from pigs that were bred and reared indoors.

Tesco believed that the ad was not misleading. It stated that the ad showed pigs both indoors and outdoors. It also said that a combination of standard trim and outdoor bred trim had been used in the product. They explained that standard trim referred to meat produced by indoor-bred pigs. The retailer said that the pigs had been reared to Red Tractor standards and ensured world class standards of husbandry and welfare to nationally agreed levels.

Tesco stated that the farm shown in the ad was a supplier for the product. It explained that the farm had both outdoor sows and indoor finishers. They said that the outdoor sows did not supply the meat for the product and that the farm supplied meat from pigs which were born outdoors and finished indoors.

Clearcast said that prior to filming the ad, Tesco had given an assurance that the footage would be shot at a farm from which the pigs were slaughtered to create their Butcher's Choice sausages.

The ASA has upheld the complaints.

The ASA acknowledged that the pigs were shown in both indoor and outdoor environments. It also acknowledged that the farm shown in the ad supplied meat for the product from pigs which were outdoor bred. ASA understood that the term outdoor bred had an industry-wide, recognised meaning: that pigs were born in fields, where they were kept until weaning, and then they were moved indoors. It understood that the Butcher’s Choice Sausages were made from a mixture of both indoor and outdoor bred trim.

ASA noted that in all scenes the pigs were shown to be in a spacious and free environment. In particular, the Authority noted that the pigs were shown wandering unrestricted outside and, within the indoor barn scene, the barn door was shown to be open and the pigs' movement unrestricted. In that context, ASA considered that consumers were likely to interpret the ad to mean that the pigs used to make the Butcher's Choice sausages were reared in an unrestricted environment and had access to outdoor pasture. Since the Authority understood that that was not the case, it concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached BCAP Code rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising).

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form, ruled the ASA.

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