A TV ad for Special K cereal featured women preparing breakfast. A voice-over stated "We women know how to get the most out of our mornings." The ad then featured a close-up of milk being poured over a bowl of Special K. The voice-over continued "Like enjoying a delicious bowl of Special K at 114 calories. Because believe it or not, we don't just wake up looking fabulous. Special K, get more delicious every day." On-screen text stated "114 Kcals and 0.6g fat per 30g serving. Enjoy as part of a healthy balanced diet & active lifestyle".
The complainant, who understood the 114 calories did not include milk, objected that the ad was misleading.
Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company (UK) Ltd (Kellogg's) said that not all consumers ate their cereal with milk and there was no requirement to do so. They said many ate it dry, with yoghurt or with orange juice. They also pointed out there were many different kinds of milk of different calorie levels. They said that, in the interests of providing consistent information to shoppers, they provided nutritional information for the food as purchased. They believed the ad was open and honest that the calories quoted were for a single 30 g portion of the product. They said the cereal packet contained nutritional information for a 30 g serving of the product, and also contained nutritional information for a suggested serving with 125 ml of semi-skimmed milk. They said that in the Department of Health profiling scheme and traffic labelling instructions their products were judged without milk, and believed it would be inconsistent with existing nutrition models to require otherwise.
Clearcast did not believe the ad was misleading and said the on-screen text qualified that the calorie amount was for a 30 g serving of the product. They said, although the product was pictured being eaten with milk, this was only a serving suggestion. They said the various ways in which the cereal could be consumed meant that the only accurate way to describe the calorie content would be for the cereal in its dry form.
The ASA noted that Kellogg's believed the differing preferences of consumers meant that it was most accurate to describe the calorie content for the cereal without milk. However, we noted that the ad prominently featured milk being poured on the cereal and considered viewers would infer that the women featured eating the cereal were consuming it with milk. We therefore considered that consumers were likely to believe the calorie claim made in the voice-over included milk. We noted the ad featured on-screen text that stated "114 Kcals and 0.6g fat per 30g serving". However, we did not consider this made clear that the calorie claim did not include milk. We acknowledged that not all consumers would eat cereal with milk, and that there were also a range of milks available with different calorie contents. However, we considered that, in an ad that prominently featured the cereal being eaten with milk, it should have clarified that the calorie claim did not include milk and, because it did not do so, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
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) and 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Kellogg's to ensure similar ads that featured calorie claims clarified whether or not they included milk.