Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad for McDonald’s, seen in October and early November 2015, began with a boy asking, “Mum, can we have some Chicken McNuggets?”. A voice-over stated, “Oh dear, that’s put Sarah in a spin. Because she’s heard they’re made from all sorts of chickeny bits. She’s not really sure what to believe”, followed by a shot of Sarah sitting at a laptop with the words “SLIME”, “FEET”, “beaks” and “MUSH” superimposed over it. The voice-over continued, “This is Rosie. She’s a food tech teacher and mum. When it comes to food Rosie knows what’s what. She knows what 100% chicken breast meat looks like and what it tastes like.” Rosie was shown inspecting a McNugget under a magnifying glass, then tasting it and nodding appreciatively. The voice-over stated, “So now Sarah knows what goes into our McNuggets, everyone’s happy.”
The ASA received nine complaints.
1. Eight of the complainants, who understood the product was made up of only 45% chicken breast meat, challenged whether the claim “100% chicken breast meat” was misleading.
2. Six of the complainants challenged whether the reference to Rosie being a “food tech teacher” was misleading, because they believed it suggested that the product had been formally endorsed by a food expert.
1. McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd confirmed that the product as a whole contained 45% chicken breast meat, as stated on their website. They considered it was clear from the ad that the product was not just a piece of chicken, but that it also included the crispy coating. The ad did not claim that the product was 100% chicken breast meat; it claimed that the only meat in the product was chicken breast. They provided copies of documents in which their two suppliers confirmed that the meat in Chicken McNuggets was solely chicken breast, and a detailed description of the manufacturing process. That process entailed chopping the chicken breast meat fillets into small pieces, marinating the meat, forming it into nugget shapes, lightly coating the nuggets with flour, heat-treating them, coating them in batter and then flash frying and quick freezing them. The nuggets were then fried from frozen in the restaurant. McDonald’s clarified that the 45% meat as a percentage of Chicken McNuggets as a whole was calculated in line with the Quantitative Ingredient Declaration (as required by food labelling regulations), and related to the quantity of the raw meat expressed as a percentage of the ingredients in the product’s recipe. The remaining 55% of the product comprised the ingredients for the marinade and coating.
McDonald’s said the premise of the ad was to highlight that the meat in their chicken nuggets was solely chicken breast. The first part of the ad was intended to address the possible myth that the meat in Chicken McNuggets might come from unsavoury parts of the chicken, or that it might not even come from a chicken at all. That myth was then responded to through Rosie, the food tech teacher and mum, who was shown identifying that the meat was chicken breast meat. The myth was then busted by the voice-over which reassured the viewer that the meat in the product was solely chicken breast, “… now Sarah knows what goes into Chicken McNuggets …”.
Clearcast considered it was clear from the ad that the chicken meat had a crispy coating and therefore it was the meat only that was being referred to. They had queried with McDonald’s whether the meat was 100% chicken breast and had received the same documentation from the suppliers as had now been provided to the ASA. They felt that was sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim.
2. McDonald’s confirmed that Rosie’s character was played by a food technology teacher at a secondary school in London, who had 11 years’ experience teaching children aged between 11 and 16 how to cook and the science behind the food, and who also ran after-school cooking clubs.
McDonald’s said the scene with Rosie was not an endorsement of the product, but it did provide confirmation by a food professional that the meat in Chicken McNuggets was chicken breast meat. Rosie was asked to confirm that the meat looked like chicken breast meat as opposed to any other kind of meat, which she confirmed.
Clearcast said the advertising agency employed a food technology teaching technician, who was also a blogger and mother; her qualifications and experience had been attested to by the agency. They were therefore satisfied that referring to Rosie as a “food tech teacher” was a legitimate depiction of her professional status. Clearcast further considered that the script was written in such a way to suggest that it was Rosie’s personal opinion rather than a professional endorsement.
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered that the average consumer would be aware that chicken nuggets were comprised of chicken with a breadcrumb or batter coating. We noted that the imagery and voice-over of the ad focused on the chicken content of Chicken McNuggets rather than on the coating, or on the product as a whole. In that context we considered viewers would interpret the claim “[Rosie] knows what 100% chicken breast meat looks like and what it tastes like”, particularly in combination with the accompanying imagery of the product, to mean that the meat in the product was solely chicken breast meat, rather than that the product in its entirety was made from chicken breast meat. We understood that while chicken made up 45% by weight of the ingredients in Chicken McNuggets as a whole, the meat in the nuggets was 100% chicken breast meat as suggested by the ad, rather than coming from other parts of the chicken. We therefore concluded the claim was not misleading.
On that 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 3.12 3.12 Advertisements must not mislead by exaggerating the capability or performance of a product or service. (Exaggeration), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
While we noted that ‘Rosie’ was played by an experienced food technology technician, we considered that the average consumer who saw the ad would expect that the character was fictional and had simply been used for illustrative purposes to highlight that the meat in Chicken McNuggets was 100% chicken breast meat. We concluded viewers therefore would not interpret the ad to mean that the product had been formally endorsed by an expert in food.
On that point, we investigated that ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.45 3.45 Testimonials or endorsements used in advertising must be genuine, unless they are obviously fictitious, and be supported by documentary evidence. Testimonials and endorsements must relate to the advertised product or service. Claims that are likely to be interpreted as factual and appear in advertisements must not mislead or be likely to mislead. (Endorsements and Testimonials).
No further action necessary.