A radio ad, heard on 27 June 2018 for Costa Coffee, featured a voice-over which stated, "Oh, there's a great deal on ripen at home avocados. Sure, they'll be hard as rock for the first 18 days, three hours and 20 minutes, then they'll be ready to eat, for about 10 minutes, then they'll go off. For a better deal head to Costa Coffee and grab a delicious, piping hot bacon roll or egg muffin for just £2 when you buy any medio or massimo hot drink or flat white before 11am".
Two complainants challenged whether the ad discouraged the selection of fresh fruit.
Costa Ltd said that their ad centred on the frustration and unpredictability of the avocado. They stated that trends had shown that the avocado had become a popular item for breakfast, but more often than not consumers had shared comical anecdotes on the unfortunate issue of ripening, as they struggled to agree on how to ripen the fruit and/or the best time to consume it.
Costa said that they were not suggesting to listeners to make a definitive choice over two breakfast items, but instead suggested that they had a promotional offer to satisfy breakfast requirements.
Radiocentre said that they felt the ad was not in breach of the Code because it was unlikely that the majority of consumers would regard the ad as a serious comparison between bacon rolls or egg muffins and avocados and therefore that bacon rolls or egg muffins were a better nutritional choice. Rather, they felt that consumers would regard the comparison as a light-hearted remark about the common experience of buying inedible avocados when compared to buying an instant hot coffee and bacon roll or egg muffin. They said that the words "better deal" were in context of the price promotion "for just £2".
The BCAP Code stated that comparisons between foods must not discourage the selection of options such as fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, which generally accepted dietary opinions recommended should form a greater part of the average diet.
The ASA considered that consumers would interpret the ad as a comparison between the experience of eating an avocado and a bacon roll or egg muffin.
We noted the ad placed emphasis on negative aspects of buying avocados, albeit in a light-hearted way, such as waiting for them to ripen, and the time frame within which they could be eaten once ripe. That contrasted with the positive language used to describe Costa’s own breakfast items, which were described as offering “a better deal”.
We considered that, although the ad was light-hearted, it nevertheless suggested avocados were a poor breakfast choice, and that a bacon roll or egg muffin would be a better alternative, and in doing so discouraged the selection of avocados.
In light of the above, we concluded that the ad discouraged the selection of fresh fruit and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 13.5 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Costa Ltd to ensure future ads did not condone or encourage poor nutritional habits and that they did not disparage good dietary practice.