Complaint against Tesco horsemeat ad upheld

A complaint against a Tesco ad, which was made in response to the horsemeat scandal, has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ad has been criticised of misleading consumers, as it implied that the horsemeat scandal affected the entire food industry.

The complaint was made by a butcher, who pointed out that the ad stated: “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.”

The ASA responded to the complaint and said: “We considered that despite the use of words such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ in the preceding sentences, the ad made a definitive statement, ‘It’s about the whole food industry’.

“We considered that the omission of ‘we’ or ‘our’ from that sentence made it stand out from the surrounding text and informed readers’ understanding of the rest of the ad. Therefore, we concluded consumers would understand the ad referenced all food retailers and suppliers, rather than Tesco alone.”

Tesco responded to the complaint, stating that the ad aimed to show consumers that it was taking the horsemeat scandal seriously, and explained that when the ad appeared, the media were naming operators involved in the scandal on a daily basis.

Tesco further obtained an expert opinion on the matter, which said the problem did affect the whole food industry and was not limited to one sector.

However, the company accepted that “not everyone in the food industry had been implicated in the selling of horsemeat”.

The second complaint claimed that the ad “unfairly denigrated food suppliers which had not been implicated in the supply of mislabelled meat products”. However, this was not upheld because the ad “had not referenced other marketers”.

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