Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad for Cravendale, a dairy company, seen in October 2019, opened with a butler serving a woman a white coloured drink in a wine glass. The woman said, “Milk?” and the butler replied, “No madam, it’s not milk”. The next scene was set during a tennis match where one of the players was handed a bottle of Cravendale. One of the commentators said, “A quick break for milk,” and the other said “No John, it’s not milk”. Another scene was set in an art gallery and showed a bottle of Cravendale displayed behind glass, whilst text below stated, “Arla Cravendale It’s not milk”. During the rest of the ad, people in various scenes were shown holding bottles of Cravendale and repeating the phrase “It’s not milk”. At the end of the ad, large on-screen text stated, “FRESH MILK” accompanied by a voice-over which said, “…, it’s fresh milk filtered for purity Arla Cravendale”.
IssueThe ASA received 111 complaints: 1. All of the complainants, who understood that the product was dairy, challenged whether the repeated use of the claim “it’s not milk” was misleading. 2. Most complainants also challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it could cause harm to those who had a dairy allergy and mistakenly believed the product would be suitable for them.
Response1. & 2. Arla Foods Ltd t/a Arla Cravendale said Clearcast had cleared the ad, including the “it’s not milk” statements for broadcast. The ad was broadcast unchanged as confirmed to be acceptable by Clearcast. Arla Cravendale said that they would be prepared to include the claim, “It’s definitely milk. Definitely” as an additional copy on future iterations of the ad at the first appearance of the phrase “it’s not milk”. Clearcast said the ad depicted various scenes of heightened, lavish and desirous lifestyles where Cravendale was being consumed, as the characters in the ad saw it as of better quality than ordinary milk. In each scenario, someone declared “it’s not milk” but in the final scene, a farmer declared that it was in fact milk – “it’s fresh milk, filtered for purity”. Clearcast said the treatment was humorous, playing on a common trope whereby ads suggested that their product was not what it seemed, but was actually superior to that. They said they believed the average consumer would understand that to be the commonly understood creative way of saying that Cravendale was more highly regarded than ordinary milk. They said that at no point did anyone featured in the ad say that the milk was dairy-free and that was not implied in any scene. There were in fact four separate occasions where the ad reinforced that the product was dairy. Clearcast said that in the scene where a bottle of Cravendale was on display in an art gallery, underneath were the words, “fresh, filtered milk”. They said that made the juxtaposition clear that it was not ordinary milk, but because it had been filtered, it was better. They added that in one scene there were model cows on the table to eradicate any confusion over where the milk came from. Clearcast said the humorous treatment, designed to highlight the quality of the product, was acceptable and unlikely to mislead or cause harm.
Assessment1. & 2. Not upheld The ASA acknowledged that the scenes presented in the ad were designed to be humorous and in general, did not depict scenarios in which milk would ordinarily be featured or consumed ? for example, being drunk in a wine glass, during a break at a tennis match or on display in an art gallery. We therefore considered that consumers would understand that the claim “it’s not milk” in the context of the ad was likely to have a comical double meaning. Throughout the ad there were various hints that the product was dairy ? for example, the scene in the art gallery where a close-up of the label stated “filtered fresh milk”, and scenes set in a kitchen which had figurines of cows in the décor and black and white patched items as the milk was poured into a bowl of cereal. While we accepted these could be missed by viewers, and the claim “it’s not milk” was repeated, we considered the final scene, accompanied by a voice-over which stated, “It’s not milk, it’s fresh milk filtered for purity” which was also in large capitalised on-screen text, that was sufficiently prominent to make clear that the product was dairy milk. While that text appeared towards the end of the ad, we considered consumers would understand, by the end of the ad, if not before, that the claim “it’s not milk” was a play on words, intended to highlight the different way the product was processed from other dairy milk during its manufacture, rather than as a statement that it was not dairy milk. We therefore concluded that consumers were unlikely to be misled by the claim in the ad. We also considered that because viewers would understand that the product was dairy, those who were unable to consume milk for various reasons were unlikely to be misled into believing it was suitable for them and therefore mistakenly be caused harm by it. For those reasons we concluded the ad was not misleading or irresponsible. 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. (Responsible advertising), and 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. and 3.2 3.2 Advertisements must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. (Misleading advertising), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.