A TV ad for a range of lactose-free products showed hedgehogs shopping in a supermarket. A voice, over a loudspeaker said, "Listen up hedgehogs, you're not intolerant to dairy, you're just intolerant to lactose, the sugars in dairy. Remove the lactose and, by jingo, it's dairy all round. Say yes to a milky latte, say yes to a really cheesy cheese pizza. Go on, say yes to dairy." An on-screen footnote read "Not suitable for milk allergy sufferers. If in doubt consult your GP".
One complainant, whose seven-year-old son is allergic to dairy and had been given the product by a relative who mistakenly believed it would be suitable, objected that the ad was misleading and harmful, because it did not make sufficiently clear that the product would be dangerous for dairy allergy sufferers.
Arla Foods Ltd (Arla) said they believed the ad did not breach the Code. They believed the ad was clear in terms of for whom Lactofree products were suitable and what the products were. Arla said the ad fitted within a theme of raising awareness of lactose intolerance and the availability of Lactofree products as a dairy product suitable for those suffering from lactose intolerance. Arla said the ad was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society. They believed the ad did not mislead in any way nor was it likely to do so and it did not encourage or condone behaviour that prejudiced health or safety.
Arla said the ad made it clear that the product was not suitable for dairy allergy sufferers, with on-screen text stating "Not suitable for milk allergy sufferers. If in doubt consult your GP". Arla explained that the footnote remained on the screen for approximately six seconds and was presented clearly in a manner which complied with the ASA's font size requirements for superscripts.
Arla said they believed the emphasis throughout the ad, both in theme and voice-over, was that lactofree products were dairy products from which lactose had been removed. Arla explained that the voice-over twice stated "say yes to dairy", which they believed reiterated the fact that these were dairy products being sold. Arla did not believe the advert implied that Lactofree products were suitable for consumers who had a dairy or milk allergy. Instead they believed the ad clearly stated that dairy products were being presented, which were suitable for those who were intolerant to lactose, the sugars in dairy.
Arla said that consumers with dairy allergies were more likely to be prudent and careful when selecting products to purchase and they believed that such consumers were likely to know that there is a clear distinction between being allergic to dairy products and suffering from lactose intolerance. Arla said that the products themselves carried clear allergen warnings, which stated "not suitable for milk allergy suffers" and "contains milk". Furthermore Arla explained that the ad featured an on-screen footnote, which stated "Search Lactofree". They said this was intended to guide and direct consumers, who may have had queries about either Lactofree products or lactose intolerance, to the Lactofree website, which contained detailed information on these topics.
Clearcast said their nutritional consultant approved the on-screen text, which stated "Not suitable for milk allergy sufferers. If in doubt consult your GP", as a means of making the nature of the product clear to consumers. Clearcast said they believed this on-screen text made it clear the product was not suitable for dairy or milk allergy sufferers and they explained that the text appeared clearly in the body of the ad. They said the ad made it clear that the products were dairy products with the lactose removed, rather than dairy-free products. Clearcast said the name of the product further implied that it was free from lactose rather than free from dairy. Clearcast explained that they believed the ad was socially responsible and was neither misleading nor harmful.
The ASA understood the complainant was concerned the ad did not make sufficiently clear that Lactofree products were not suitable for dairy allergy suffers. We noted that the voice-over said, "Listen up hedgehogs, you're not intolerant to dairy, you're just intolerant to lactose, the sugars in dairy" and that as a stand-alone statement, this could be misunderstood as suggesting that dairy allergy sufferers were not allergic to dairy, but intolerant to lactose, the sugars in dairy.
However, we considered the on-screen text made sufficiently clear that the Lactofree products were not suitable for dairy allergy sufferers but were suitable for those intolerant to lactose. On-screen text also suggested that if in doubt consumers should consult their GP. We further noted that an on-screen footnote stated "Search Lactofree" to guide consumers, who may have had queries about Lactofree products or lactose intolerance in general, to the information on their website. Furthermore, we considered that consumers suffering from dairy allergies, and those connected to them, were more inclined to be cautious when selecting products to purchase and would likely pay attention to the on-screen text in the ad or the recommendation to seek further information. We therefore concluded that the ad was neither misleading nor did it encourage or condone behaviour that prejudiced health or safety.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social responsibility), 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence).
No further action necessary.