A radio ad for McDonald's, broadcast on Virgin Radio on 8 March 2019, featured a conversation between two men about their respective lunches. One reported that he had a "packed lunch ... with a cheeky little choccy bar". The other remarked "That looks tiny, have they made them smaller?” to which the first responded, “Yeah, they used to be twice as big”. The other exclaimed “You've been robbed, mate" before he revealed that he had a "Grand Big Mac Bacon...a Big Mac only bigger, with added bacon". The other man responded, “Nice”. A voice-over concluded "Don't go big, go grand. It's a Big Mac, only grander”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was likely to condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or excessive consumption of a food.
They said that the focus of the ad was the quality and taste of the burger. They quoted a passage from the ad where one character stated “It’s a Big Mac only bigger! With added bacon!” to which the other character responded “Nice” and said that the response only made sense as a reference to the extra taste derived from the bacon, rather than the larger size of the product.
They also said that the line “DON’T GO BIG, GO GRAND … It’s a Big Mac, only Grander” emphasised the taste improvement over a regular Big Mac instead of the larger size. They said the comparison in the ad was with another high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) product, and that the ad did not imply the product was a snack that should be consumed regularly or excessively.
They also said the Grand Big Mac Bacon contained 777 calories - 39% of the recommended intake of calories – and so could be enjoyed as a treat as part of a balanced diet. Radiocentre said they did not feel that the ad breached the BCAP Code, and did not have anything to add to McDonalds’ response.
Not upheld The ASA considered that the main focus of the ad was the size of the Grand Big Mac Bacon relative to the size of the small chocolate bar. The ad featured numerous references and comparisons involving size - including: “little choccy bar", "That looks tiny, have they made them smaller?”, “…a Big Mac only bigger…” and "Don't go big, go grand”. We also considered that the statement “a Big Mac only bigger, with added bacon" complemented those statements and contributed to the ad’s focus on size.
While we noted all of those references to size, we considered that the phrase “little choccy bar” would be understood as a comedic reference to the ‘shrinkflation’ of chocolate bars which served to emphasise the fact that the Big Mac had increased in size with the addition of bacon. We considered that the ad did not go as far as to compare the merits of the two lunch options or to encourage poor nutritional habits.
Additionally, although we noted the scene depicted in the ad was lunch – an everyday meal – we considered that there was nothing overt or implicit in the ad advocating the consumption of a Grand Big Mac Bacon on a daily or otherwise regular basis. We therefore considered that while the ad drew attention to the fact the Grand Big Mac Bacon was large, that emphasis on size did not in itself encourage excessive consumption of a food.
We investigated under BCAP Code rules 13.2 and 13.3 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.