Tesco horsemeat ad banned for damning whole food industry

Tesco: ASA rules that retailer's horsemeat ad was misleading
Tesco: ASA rules that retailer's horsemeat ad was misleading

Tesco's press ad entitled, "What burgers have taught us", which it ran in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, has been banned for implying there are issues with meat standards across the whole food industry.

The ad, created by Wieden + Kennedy, appeared in national newspapers and said: "The problem we’ve had with some of our meat lately is about more than burgers and bolognese. It’s about some of the ways we get meat to your dinner table.

"It’s about the whole food industry. And it has made us realise, we really do need to make it better.

"We’ve been working on it, but we need to keep going, go further, move quicker. We know that our supply chain is too complicated. So we’re making it simpler.

"...Seriously. This is it. We are changing."

Two complainants, including an independent butcher, challenged the ad’s wording and claimed it was misleading for implying that issues with meat standards ran across the whole food industry.

Tesco said the ad was published to show it was taking the horsemeat issue seriously and to demonstrate it was listening to customers. It argued that by being proactive in issuing the communication to the public, it showed its own commitment to customers to make its supply chain shorter, less complex and more transparent.

Despite Tesco outlining that at the time of the ad and the scandal, the media was naming brands and specific operators who had been directly implicated in the selling of horsemeat, the Advertising Standards Authority banned the ad for being misleading.

The ASA said the ad implied that all retailers and suppliers were likely to have sold products contaminated with horsemeat, and because relatively few instances of contamination had been identified at the time the ad appeared, it has been deemed misleading. 

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