Two vegan commercials have been banned by the advertising watchdog because of allegations that they were misleading and “disturbing”.
A television commercial for the organization Vegan Friendly UK raised complaints about its use of graphic images of animals in distress who played alongside people who ate.
The ad, seen in March, showed two women and a man around a table next to clips of a fish head still gasping for air, a live pig next to a pig with closed eyes and a cow, who seemed to have tears from its eye.
A further clip showed a cow’s skinned head with eyes and teeth still present lying on its side.
As they continued to eat at the table, the ad read, “No animal was harmed, eaten, or bought to make this ad,” followed by the text: “Make the connection.”
The Advertising Standards Authority received 63 complaints, including that the ad contained unjustified violence against animals, which caused unnecessary concern to viewers.
Vegan Friendly UK said, however, that the clips used in the ad did not depict violence or harm, and that such images were regularly seen in the windows of butchers or fishmongers on the average British main street.
They clarified that the purpose of the ad was to encourage meat eaters who were against animal cruelty to reconsider their actions, adding that they believed that their ad did not slander meat eaters.
The ad received a restriction that prevented it from being broadcast in or next to programs commissioned for, primarily targeted at or likely to appeal to children under 16 years of age.
But the ASA ruled that this was not enough and that it must not reappear as it “was not suitable to be broadcast on television regardless of planning restrictions”.
Meanwhile, advertisements for Tesco’s Plant Chef burgers were also taken off the air over “misleading” claims that the products could make a positive difference to the environment compared to their meat equivalents.
TV, video on demand, radio, press, Twitter and website ads in October and November showed a woman about to eat a burger while hearing the words on TV: “The planet continues to heat up,” after which a voice-over said: ” Now that’s not what Zoe likes to hear, but she wants to roll up her sleeves and do her thing … and there it is, a delicious Tesco Plant Chef burger.
“We have lowered the price of dozens of our Plant Chef products because a small prey can make a difference for the planet.”
But the ad attracted 171 complaints from viewers.
‘No evidence for allegations’
The supermarket giant said the wording “slightly” played an important role in determining the breadth of the claims, adding that they did not claim that the products were sustainable or good in themselves, but that by eating plant-based products as opposed to meat-based, consumers could make a small or “small” difference.
However, ASA stated that “Tesco had no evidence in relation to the full life cycle of any of the products in the Plant Chef range or of the burger in the advertisements. We were therefore unable to assess the overall environmental impact of the product over its life cycle compared with a meatburger. “
Separately, the ASA found that a radio and television advertisement for Sainsbury’s that promoted the general benefits to the environment by reducing meat protein instead of plant protein was not misleading.
A Tesco spokesman said: “We offer hundreds of plant-based options and although we are disappointed with this result, our customers can still count on us helping them enjoy a better balanced diet with many more delicious and affordable plant-based products in the pipeline. “