A national press ad, promoting Red Tractor approved pork was headlined "Give a fork about your pork". Text stated "Now more than ever it's important to know the meat you are buying comes from a trusted source. All pork and bacon carrying the Red Tractor mark has always been responsibly produced from feed to fork and is fully traceable back to independently inspected Red Tractor farms. It's the easiest way to guarantee the provenance of the pork you're buying". It featured an image of two workers pushing a giant fork.
Three complainants challenged whether the use of "fork" was offensive because it was a word play on "fuck".
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board t/a lovepork.co.uk (lovepork.co.uk) stated that the ad was originally broadcast as a VOD ad on Channel 4's On Demand service and campaign phrase "Give a fork about your pork," appeared in text format and was spoken to camera. They had received advice from Clearcast in relation to the VOD ad, which set out Clearcast's view that the ad was advised as "ok for VoD". Lovepork.co.uk stated that the phrase also appeared on pitch perimeter banners during a football World Cup qualifying match between England and Montenegro and had also been published in several national newspapers. They were not aware of any complaints made in relation to the ad appearing in that media. They said the collective circulation of the combined publications in which the printed ad appeared was 6,844,674, as only three complaints were made, they did not consider that the ad had caused serious or widespread offence in contravention of CAP Code rule 4.1.
They stated that the ad did not use any explicit bad language or profanities and the phrase was intended to convey the message that consumers should put "thought" into their purchase of pork. They stated that "fork" was a play on the word "thought", not "fuck" and the message was that consumers could benefit from the reassurance that the production and supply of Red Tractor Pork was of a high quality and was regulated rigorously. They said they had been campaigning for many years to persuade consumers to think about the pork they were buying and the standards underlying quality pork production.
The ASA noted that Clearcast had provided a view on the ad, but considered that that was advice only. We acknowledged that the ad and the phrase "Give a fork about your pork" was intended to raise awareness about the provenance of pork and the quality of pork production and had therefore used word play in a comical way to express that message. Although we considered that some readers might understand that the use of "fork" was a word play on "thought" (give a thought about your pork), we also considered that many readers would understand that the use of "fork" was intended as word play on the word "fuck" and related to the phrase "give a fuck about ...". We noted, however, that the ad did not expressly use any explicit language and therefore concluded that, although some readers might find the connotation and word play distasteful, it was unlikely that the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.