Summary of Council decision:
Five issues were investigated, one was Upheld and four were Not upheld.
A TV ad, for Richmond ham, opened with a man wearing only a cap, standing in a field and looking admiringly at a ham sandwich. He was then shown strolling past a group of naked people who were eating a picnic. The man sang, "Oh Richmond ham, as nature intended, you've nothing to hide Richmond ham, to me you taste blooming splendid. And I say naturally, check the pack and you'll see, 100% natural ingredients its true, yes it's Richmond's for me." The camera then cut to a shot of the man's backside and a voice-over stated, "New Richmond ham. Britain's only ham made with 100% natural ingredients." On-screen text stated "See richmondham.co.uk for verification. Reviewed quarterly".
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children.
The ASA received 371 complaints.
1. The majority of the complainants challenged whether the nudity in the ad was offensive.
2. Many complainants challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at times when children were likely to be watching.
3. Ten complainants challenged whether the claim "Britain's only ham made with 100% natural ingredients" was misleading and could be substantiated, because they understood many local producers and butchers also made 100% natural ham products;
4. Five complainants challenged whether it was misleading to describe the product as "Britain's only ham ...", because they believed the company was Irish and the product was made in Ireland; and
5. Four complainants challenged whether the claims "made with 100% natural ingredients" and "as nature intended" were misleading and could be substantiated, because they understood the product was processed and made with pork protein.
1. Kerry Foods Ltd (KF) said the ad was designed to convey their core message about Richmond Ham's natural ingredients in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, humorous manner consistent with their positioning as a family brand. They said the ad demonstrated a well-adjusted, comfortable, and completely non-sexual attitude to the human body and that, before it was launched, they tested it rigorously with their target audience of mums with children living at home and had received an overwhelmingly positive response.
Clearcast said they did not consider the nudity in the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offense because it was not sexual, voyeuristic or sleazy. They did not feel the nudity was gratuitous, but rather that it was there to reinforce the brand message of being 100% natural.
2. KF said their media schedule was planned with their target audience in mind. They told us they had abided by the ex-kids restriction placed by Clearcast, and that the ad had only run in airtime that Ofcom classified as 'adult'.
Clearcast said they did not believe the ad would cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under 18 years old and they felt an ex-kids restriction was sufficient to reduce the likelihood of the ad being seen by children under 16.
3. KF said they were confident they were the only producer currently able to make ham using 100% natural ingredients. They said the most commonly used ingredients used in converting pork to ham were phosphates, sodium nitrite, sodium chloride, sodium ascorbate, dextrose and flavourings and that to produce a ham made from 100% natural ingredients, all of those ingredients would have to be removed or replaced by natural sources. They explained that salt, nitrite and ascorbate were critical in the curing process and were generally produced in chemical factories, but that they had replaced the salt with natural sea salt and the nitrite and ascorbate with a natural flavouring, which contained low levels of natural nitrite and ascorbate, and which played a part in developing the flavour and the colour of the ham. They said that natural flavouring was exclusive to Kerry Ingredients, who only provided it to the Richmond brand in the UK, and that they were therefore the only cooked ham producer with that technology. They acknowledged that producers of air-dried hams, such as parma ham, may just use salt when producing their products, but they felt because the pack shot in the ad clearly stated "Cooked Ham" on the label, that was sufficient to make it clear that their claim related specifically to cooked ham.
KF also provided us with the brief and results of what they described as a comprehensive market trawl by Mintel, which had not identified any other cooked hams made from 100% natural ingredients. They told us it had not been possible for them to check every ham product in Britain, but they believed if such a product existed its promoter would have asserted its position and taken issue with their claim.
Clearcast said they accepted the findings of KF's market research, which showed that all of the products audited contained sodium nitrates or nitrites. They said they had received substantiation from KF which showed they had developed natural ingredients that allowed them to produce cooked ham without nitrites, and that those ingredients were exclusive to KF and therefore unique in the market.
4. KF acknowledged the product was made in Ireland, rather than Britain, but they said the claim centred on the availability of the product, rather than its provenance. They said they did not therefore believe the claim was misleading.
Clearcast said they did not view the reference to "Britain" as a provenance claim and that the claim was meant in the broadest sense possible, in that it related to the whole British market.
5. KF acknowledged that, as ham is a processed product, they could not claim the product itself was natural and they said they had therefore made it clear, via the voice-over and on-screen text, that the "100% natural" claim related only to the ingredients from which the product was made. They said the phrase "as nature intended" was used lyrically to further convey the message that the ingredients used in the product were derived directly from nature. They told us Richmond Ham was made only from pork, sea salt, pork protein, vegetable extract and Demerara sugar, and provided raw material specification sheets from each of the suppliers of those ingredients, confirming that they complied with the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) interpretation of the term "natural". They explained that pork protein was an ingredient derived from fresh pork rind and that the only processes used to extract it were natural processes such as crushing and drying.
Clearcast endorsed KF's response.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad featured nudity and we accepted that that was not directly relevant to the product being advertised. However, we considered most consumers would understand that it was a light-hearted reference to the product being "as nature intended". Whilst we understood the ad may not appeal to everyone, we considered that it was not sexual in tone and we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. and 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We acknowledged some complainants felt the content of the ad made it unsuitable for viewing by children. However, we considered that the ad did not contain anything that might harm or distress children under 16, or that was otherwise unsuitable for them. We therefore concluded that the ad was scheduled appropriately.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) but did not find it in breach.
3. Not upheld
Although we accepted that a number of varieties of air-dried ham were made with 100% natural ingredients, we considered that consumers were likely to interpret the claim as applying to cooked ham only. We noted that KF's market trawl had audited the cooked ham products available in 27 supermarket and convenience chains throughout the UK and 19 chains in Ireland, which they advised covered at least 95% of grocery outlets in the UK and that, of the 447 products analysed, none were made from 100% natural ingredients. Whilst the market trawl did not look at every cooked ham product available, or cover small independent retailers, we accepted that there were a number of difficulties inherent in producing cooked ham without the use of artificial ingredients and we considered that KF had provided adequate substantiation for the claim.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) but did not find it in breach.
Whilst we accepted the ad did not refer directly to the provenance of the product, we considered that describing the product as "Britain's only ham ..." was likely to be interpreted by consumers as meaning the product was British in origin, when in fact that was not the case. We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached BCAP Code rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising).
5. Not upheld
We accepted KF had shown the product was made from ingredients that could be described as 'natural' under the FSA's guidelines, and we noted the "100% natural" claim referred to the product's ingredients, rather than to the product as a whole. Whilst we acknowledged the complainants felt the phrase "as nature intended" was misleading when used to describe a processed product, we considered that the majority of consumers would be aware that mass-produced packaged ham was a processed food, and we therefore concluded that the claims were unlikely to mislead.
On this point we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) but did not find it in breach.
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.