A TV ad for M&S, seen on 24 June 2019, began with a screen which showed the "M&S FOOD" logo and the text "FRESH MARKET UPDATE". Further text stated "in partnership with itv WEATHER". The ITV weather presenter Lucy Verasamy was seen in an M&S food department. She spoke to camera "Welcome to the M&S food fresh market update. I'm usually in the ITV weather studio but for the next few weeks I'll be going on a journey to visit the farmers behind M&S fresh food". She was then seen visiting a farmer who supplied raspberries to M&S. A punnet of raspberries, the price £2 in a circle and the text "Selected stores only" was shown on the screen. Voice-over by Lucy Verasamy said, "Join me again same time tomorrow from Tuesday Farm for another M&S Food fresh market update." The ad ended with the same screen from the beginning of the ad which showed the "M&S FOOD" logo, the text "FRESH MARKET UPDATE" and further text which stated "in partnership with itv WEATHER”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was obviously identifiable as such.
ITV believed the material was clearly an ad for M&S which used ITV Intellectual Property licensed to M&S.
Clearcast said they believed viewers would be clear that the material was an ad and not programme footage because it was only 60 seconds long (so any doubt that it was a programme would be resolved relatively quickly). It was framed as a promotion at the beginning and the end, with the M&S logo featuring prominently, as a M&S food fresh market update in collaboration with ITV Weather; and because M&S branding was prominent throughout in the voice-over, graphic text and on the food packaging and side of the van. Clearcast considered some of the wording used by Lucy Verasamy could potentially be confused with editorial style but they believed the “feel” of the ad was more typical of an ad than programming, with its use of music, quick cuts between scenes and soft camera filters and considered the focus on a commercially available item would seem out of place in TV programming. They believed the end line “Join me again same time tomorrow …” followed by the M&S logo also anchored the material as an ad. ITV and Marks and Spencer endorsed Clearcast’s response.
The Code stated "Advertisements must be obviously distinguishable from editorial content, especially if they use a situation, performance or style reminiscent of editorial content, to prevent the audience being confused between the two. The audience should quickly recognise the message as an advertisement". The ASA considered that the text on the black screen at the beginning of the ad which stated "in partnership with itv WEATHER" was more likely to be associated with programme material than advertising by viewers. However, the screen also showed the "M&S FOOD" logo alongside the text "FRESH MARKET UPDATE", which we considered viewers were likely to recognise as advertising references.
The ad then went on to show Lucy Verasamy speaking to camera "Welcome to the M&S food fresh market update. I'm usually in the ITV weather studio but for the next few weeks I'll be going on a journey to visit the farmers behind M&S fresh food." We considered the reference to the ITV weather studio was likely to lead viewers to make an association with programme material, but that the reference to visiting “the farmers behind M&S food” was likely to be recognised as an advertising message. The ad then went on to make prominent references to M&S before showing a punnet of raspberries, the price £2 in a circle and the text "Selected stores only", all of which we considered were likely to be recognised as advertising messages. While we acknowledged therefore that the ad contained some references that viewers were likely to associate with programme content rather than advertising, we considered any initial uncertainty was resolved sufficiently quickly not to breach the Code. We therefore concluded that the ad was obviously distinguishable from editorial content and would quickly be recognised as an ad.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 2.1 and 2.4.1 (Recognition of advertising), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.