ASA Adjudication on Unilever UK Ltd
Unilever UK Ltd
3 October 2012
Internet (on own site)
Food and drink
Number of complaints:
Billington Cartmell Ltd
Claims on www.loveicecream.com, for Wall's ice cream:
(a) One ad featured product information about the Twister lolly, including text which stated "Do the twist ... Life is twisted. So why not tangle your tongue around a Twister lolly? Chill out with the smooth pineapple flavour ice cream and refreshing lemon-lime flavour fruit ice. Then twist it to the max with the unexpected strawberry fruit ice core. Live life your way!". A side banner contained images of strawberries on a chopping board with the slogan "Love fruit".
(b) A second ad featured product information about Mini Twister lollies. Text stated "An eight pack of Twister lollies in two enticing flavours: creamy pineapple ice cream and strawberry fruit ice twisted around a core of delicious strawberry fruit ice; and creamy pineapple ice cream and strawberry fruit ice twisted around a fruity core of lemon fruit ice". There was an image of two Mini Twister lollies surrounded by two small strawberries and two pieces of citrus fruit. The page had the same "Love fruit" side banner as in ad (a), but with peaches rather than strawberries.
(c) A third ad was accessed by clicking on the "Love fruit" side banner in ads (a) and (b). This page showed an image of a Solero ice cream and a mixing bowl full of ice cream and fruit carrying the text "What makes our ice cream taste so fruity?". Clicking on the bowl revealed the statement "... we combine fruit with ice cream to create a delicate balance of softness and sweetness in a light yet indulgent eating experience". Other parts of the page contained information about different types of fruit, a fruit horoscope quiz and a banner showing pictures of the Wall's range of "fruity ice cream" (Solero, Calippo, Cornetto and Frusi Pots). There were also links to other areas of the website entitled "Love milk" and "Love chocolate".
The Children's Food Campaign (Sustain) challenged whether the text and images in ads (a), (b) and (c) gave a misleading impression of the nutritional value of the Twister, Solero, Calippo, Cornetto and Frusi Pot ice creams because they implied a high level of fruit content which the products did not warrant.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Unilever UK Ltd (Unilever) responded that at the time the complaint had been received they were in the process of launching an entirely new website which had now replaced www.loveicecream.com. They stressed that they went to great lengths to ensure their advertising was fair and truthful. They explained that they had their advertising reviewed by legal and technical professionals before publication to ensure it complied with all applicable laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes and that they followed their own internal guidelines prohibiting advertising which undermined the promotion of healthy, balanced lifestyles. They did not believe that the three web pages in question gave a misleading impression of the fruit content of the ice cream products.
Unilever explained that the pages which showed product information about the Twister and Mini-Twister lollies (ads (a) and (b)) were designed to look like the page of a book. They said the icon carrying the image of fruit and the text "Love fruit" was a link in the side banner and did not form part of the "page". They said it was a feature of many websites to use the space around the main visual to offer links to other content, which could be related in varying degrees to the page being viewed. They stated that product pages for their fruit flavour lollies displayed the "Love fruit" icon in the side banner, and that this allowed customers interested in the Twister or similar products to discover the Solero range, which contained a significant amount of fruit. They believed consumers would understand that the icon was not intended to refer directly to the Twister lolly but to other elements of the site, particularly given the prevalence of side banners on the internet as a whole.
In relation to ad (a), Unilever pointed out that the main area of the web page, i.e. the "page of the book" which was dedicated solely to the Twister lolly, did not contain any images of fruit or any nutritional or health statements. They stated that, because ice creams are usually bought as a treat or refreshment, they had worded the description of the Twister to focus on its unusual shape and refreshing flavours. Unilever referenced Schedule 8 of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 and said their description of the lolly adhered to those regulations. They explained that this was because the taste of the outer parts of the Twister was derived from a combination of fruit juice and flavouring and therefore those elements were correctly described as "pineapple flavour" ice cream and "lemon-lime flavour" fruit ice, whilst the lolly's core got its flavour mainly from strawberry juice and it was therefore accurate to use the term "strawberry fruit ice". They also stated that their use of the term "fruit ice" complied with the Code of Practice for Edible Ices developed by the European trade organisation of ice cream manufacturers and distributors and applied across Europe.
Unilever said their description of the Mini Twister lollies in ad (b) also complied with the Code of Practice for Edible Ices and Schedule 8 of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, for the reasons set out above. With reference to the illustrations of fruit on that page, Unilever stated that these were intended to be strawberries and lemons. They noted that the Food Labelling Regulations allowed for such pictorial representations, provided that the flavour of the food being described (in this case, the strawberry and lemon flavours of the Mini Twister lollies) was derived wholly or mainly from the food depicted in the representation. They said the use of the pictures complied with this requirement because the strawberry and lemon flavours of the lollies were attributable mainly to strawberry and lemon juice. They believed that the quantity of fruit shown was neither disproportionate nor misleading as to the fruit content of the Mini Twisters, and pointed out that detailed nutritional information was provided via links to other parts of the website.
Unilever acknowledged that the citrus fruit in the image looked greener than they had intended but maintained that they were meant to be lemons, not limes. They drew attention to the packaging for this product, which they said more clearly showed lemons. They stated that, had the website not been taken down already as part of their re-launch, they would be happy to adjust the colour of the fruit in question.
Unilever explained that the "Love fruit" page (ad (c)), which was linked to from the Twister pages via the side banner, was one of three areas on their website which covered three different ingredients of ice cream, and that each of these sections focused on one of the Wall's brands characterised by that ingredient. Thus, the "Love chocolate" section focused on the Magnum, the "Love milk" on the Mini Milk and the "Love fruit" on the Solero. They believed it was evident that this page was primarily designed around the Solero because there was an image of a Solero ice cream in a picture frame. They explained that Solero ice creams contained 30–47% fruit ingredients and they therefore felt that the references to fruit on this page, and specifically the phrase "we combine ice cream and fruit to create a delicate balance of softness and sweetness in a light yet indulgent eating experience" were justified. They also noted that all of the fruits shown on the page were ingredients used in one or more varieties of Solero.
Unilever said the clickable banner showing other Wall's products was there to allow customers interested in fruit flavour ice cream to explore other elements of their range. They emphasised that no elements of the "Love fruit" page contained nutritional or health claims. Unilever believed that the use of fruit images and descriptors on the "Love fruit" page was appropriate and proportionate and did not consider that these gave a misleading impression of the nutritional value of the Solero ice cream or the products featured in the banner.
The ASA considered that the two product pages in ads (a) and (b) gave product information but did not make any nutritional or health claims. We acknowledged that the main focus of these pages was on the refreshing aspect of the products rather than their nutritional value. We noted Unilever's argument that the descriptions of the lollies complied with the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 because the elements which did not get their fruit taste wholly or mainly from the fruit in question were described as having that "flavour" only. We noted, also, that the citrus fruit in ad (b) were intended to be lemons, but that Unilever believed the illustration would not be appropriate under those regulations if they were interpreted as limes. We considered nevertheless that there was a relatively small amount of fruit on the page and that the product illustration in ad (c) was not sufficient to imply that a high level of fruit content was present in the lollies and give a misleading impression of their nutritional value.
We understood that the image of fruit with the slogan "Love fruit" formed part of the side banner of the pages and directed consumers to a page primarily focused on the Solero range. We noted that it appeared against a different background to the Twister-related elements of the web pages and considered it was therefore sufficiently clear that they were not intended to refer directly to the fruit content of the Twister.
We noted that clicking on the "Love fruit" icon took consumers to ad (c), which was a different part of the website with various images of fruit and ice cream, including a prominent picture of a Solero. We considered it was clear that the main focus of this page was the Solero ice cream. We understood that all of the types of fruit shown were ingredients in at least one variety of Solero and that each Solero contained at least 30% fruit ingredients. We therefore considered that the images of fruit and the statement "we combine fruit with ice cream ..." were appropriate for this page and did not give an exaggerated impression of the fruit content of the Solero. We noted that the page contained a link to other "fruity ice cream" products, and acknowledged that some of these may have had a lower fruit content. However, the banner did not make any nutritional or health claims and we considered that the word "fruity" did not in itself give a misleading impression of the fruit content of those ice creams.
Because we considered that the imagery and text of ads (a), (b) and (c) were appropriate to the products and did not overemphasise the fruit content of the ice creams, we concluded that the ads were not misleading.
We investigated the ads under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 15.17 (Nutritional claims and health claims) but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.