ASA Ruling on Aldi Stores Ltd
Aldi Stores Ltd
11 January 2017
Number of complaints:
A TV ad for Aldi, seen in September 2016, in which they stated that various products were "amazing". The ad showed an elderly lady and her dog skydiving with a roast chicken over a large river. She stated, "Aldi sell over 22,000 fresh British free range chickens every week. Amazing". The ad then moved onto a scene showing a man standing on top of a bridge over the same river with a bottle of champagne, whilst he stated, "Aldi sell enough champagne to launch 3,000 ships every day. I name this champagne, Amazing". In the next scene, a man was seen scuba diving in the water reading a newspaper, with fish swimming around him. The diver stated, "How's this for amazing? Aldi's Specially Selected Scottish Salmon is RSPCA assured." On-screen text also stated "Aldi's Specially Selected Scottish Salmon is RSPCA assured". A woman then suddenly appeared having bungee jumped into the water in order to grab a floating apple before flying upwards through the air and landing on a balcony, whilst she stated, "Aldi were voted by UK suppliers as the fairest supermarket to do business with. Amazing". She threw the apple behind her whilst her husband put a steak meal in front of her. He stated, "You know darling, Aldi's rump steak is 28-day matured and British and at £3.79 you could have it every day." She replied "Amazing." He responded "Oh, apparently your granny's dropping in soon." The young woman said "That's" before the granny, who was parachuting down to join them, shouted "Amazing". The voice-over then said, "Aldi, everyday amazing."
Five complainants, including the Save Our Seals Fund, challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied that Aldi's salmon were caught in the wild.
Aldi Stores Ltd pointed out that there was no express claim in the ad about how its salmon were reared (i.e. whether they were wild or farmed). However, they believed the use of the RSPCA Assured logo, and the express claim in the ad that its salmon were RSPCA Assured, made clear that the salmon were farmed and not caught in the wild. They said the RSPCA Assured scheme promoted farm animal welfare covering the whole of the animal's life, including health, diet, environment and care. It was previously known as the RSPCA's Freedom Food scheme, which had been active in the UK since 1995. It rebranded in September 2015 to use the name RSPCA Assured. They understood there was a substantial and ongoing TV campaign to launch the rebrand as well as web and social media activity. It had some 3,000 members at various levels of the supply chain. They named several well-known retailers who participated in the scheme. They believed that consumer awareness of the RSPCA Assured scheme was therefore high, and that the reference to it in the ad made clear that the salmon were farmed.
Furthermore, the salmon shown were computer-generated images and Aldi believed that virtually all consumers would appreciate that the salmon segment, and the ad as a whole, had been artificially constructed and had not been filmed in the wild or on location anywhere. They pointed out that the focus of the scene was on the newspaper-reading scuba-diver and the claim about RSPCA Assured, together with the RSPCA Assured logo, rather than on the environment around him. They believed there was nothing about the scene that led viewers to infer that Aldi's salmon were caught in the wild; for example, the ad did not show salmon leaping upstream and the scuba-diver was not shown catching or attempting to catch the fish. They said the image of a group of salmon swimming closely together in dark water was more suggestive of farmed salmon than of wild salmon.
While there was some attempt to connect the segments of the ad spatially through match-cutting and visual effects (to aid the visual and narrative flow and to avoid distracting the viewer with jarring edits), they believed there were no meaningful clues as to the location of the salmon segment from the preceding and following scenes. In particular, in the preceding scene, a champagne bottle smashed into the camera lens and dissolved to an image of the salmon and, at the end of the salmon segment, the camera panned up to bobbing apples on the surface of the water and an apple-dunking bungee jumping segment which ended in an urban setting. Aldi believed that was clearly an artificial construct not intended to reflect reality.
They pointed out that none of the products featured were shown in circumstances intended to reflect or comment on how they were sourced. The only claims made were the express claims and any obvious implications that could be drawn from them (including that the salmon were farmed, being RSPCA Assured).
They said the overall tone of the ad was light-hearted and fanciful. Therefore, it was unlikely that either the ad as a whole, or the salmon segment viewed in context, would be taken literally as a representation of the real world or the manner in which any of the products featured were reared or sourced.
Clearcast said they understood that the RSPCA was involved with the well-being of fish exclusively reared in farms, as opposed to the processes of catching fish in the wild. They felt that the general public would understand that UK salmon were overwhelmingly produced in farms, rather than caught in the wild. Also, they believed the brief shot of salmon swimming past the scuba diver did not contradict that assumption. Furthermore, they felt that the visuals were quite generic and did not imply that the salmon were caught in the wild. They thought the surreal scene of a scuba diver addressing the consumer under the water was sufficiently removed from reality. They believed that because the scene was intended as merely a visual representation of salmon, it could not be considered representative of either fish farms or salmon in the wild. As such, they thought the ad was neither misleading nor contradictory.
The ASA noted that the ad did not contain any express claims regarding the provenance of Aldi's salmon. We considered that the claim "Aldi's Specially Selected Scottish Salmon is RSPCA assured" did not make clear that Aldi's salmon were farm-reared, and we considered that some viewers would not know that the RSPCA Assured scheme promoted the welfare of animals in captivity, rather than in the wild. However, we considered that the reference to "RSPCA assured" was unlikely, in itself, to imply that Aldi's salmon were caught in the wild.
We considered that the overall tone of the ad was humorous and fantastical, and that viewers were likely to understand that the locations and situations featured did not necessarily equate to real-life scenarios. In relation to the salmon segment, we noted that the scene was brief and considered its focus was on the scuba-diver who was reading a newspaper and talking to the viewer. Whilst we noted he was sitting in deep water on the bottom of a rocky bed with fish swimming past him, it was unclear whether he was in a river, the sea, a lake or an artificially constructed body of water. Although the preceding scene featured a man standing on a bridge over a wide river, because of the way in which the scenes were knitted together, changing locations from one moment to the next, we considered viewers were unlikely to draw the conclusion that he was in the river below the man on the bridge. We also noted that the fish were not being caught or captured. We therefore also considered that, as with the specific claim above, the scenes in the ad did not imply that Aldi's salmon were caught in the wild.
For those reasons, we considered the average viewer was unlikely to interpret the ad to mean that Aldi's salmon were caught in the wild, and therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.