Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.

Ad description

A TV ad for a cake bar showed a young boy sitting at a kitchen table when an animated bear took his hand and they were shown running through a field of wheat, before walking on stilts through a river of chocolate and bouncing on a hill made of sponge cake.  The boy then landed back in the kitchen.  The voice-over stated, "Introducing Barny, a sponge snack made with ingredients like wheat, chocolate and eggs.  Keep the adventure going with Barny." The kitchen table was shown with a pile of wheat, lumps of chocolate, a jug of milk, eggs and a jug of golden liquid. On-screen text stated "No artificial colours. No preservatives". The boy was shown with his mother eating the cake bar next to a glass of milk and a bowl of fresh fruit.


1. Three viewers challenged whether the presentation of the ad implied a general health claim, which was not compliant with the BCAP Code.

2. Two viewers challenged whether the ad condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, especially in children, by referring to the product as a snack.


1.  Mondelez UK Ltd said the ingredients shown on the table in the ad, and referred to in the voice-over, was factual and simply designed to show consumers some of the ingredients in the product.  They said the wheat and eggs were shown in their raw form, together with the chocolate and oil, but there was no suggestion in either the voice-over or visuals of a general health claim or that any of the ingredients were natural or wholesome. They said the shots of chocolate rivers and of the product itself made clear to viewers that it contained chocolate.  They believed there were no references to the product or its ingredients as having any health or nutritional benefits.

Clearcast said Barny contained all the ingredients shown on the kitchen table such as eggs, milk and chocolate and, as stated in the on-screen text, contained no preservatives or artificial colours. They said they took the claims in the ad as straightforward indications of some of the ingredients that were, and were not, in the product.  They said no health claims or claims of being 'natural' or 'wholesome' were made. The lack of such claims was further endorsed by the fact that the range of foodstuffs shown included some, such as chocolate, that would not necessarily be considered healthy or wholesome.  They believed the ad simply and clearly demonstrated what the Barny product was.      

2.  Mondelez said they had assessed the entire Barny range against the Food Standards Agency guidance on snacking, which referred to a target of 20% of Guideline Daily Allowance (GDA) for snacks.  Mondelez said taking that recommendation in to consideration, along with the Change 4 Life 'Snacks for kids' advice that the 20% should be two snacks, they believed the target for one snack should be approximately 10%.  They said that Barny fell within a reasonable range of that target in terms of both quantity of nutrients provided and percentage of  a child's GDA.  They pointed out that Barny was portion controlled at 30 g and individually packed, which they believed restricted the likelihood of over consumption. They said the ad did not imply that the product was an everyday food nor did it encourage daily consumption.  

Mondelez believed that the product represented a reasonable snack suggestion and was not out of line with current guidance on snacking, nor did it encourage poor nutritional habits or lifestyle. The ad featured milk and fruit, both elements of healthy eating.  They said the ad featured physical activity throughout and the child's consumption was shown as controlled, with the child sitting at a table and supervised by an adult. They did not believe that the ad condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle.   

Clearcast said Barny was an HFSS (high in fats, salt and sugar) product and they applied the appropriate scheduling restriction to prevent the ad from being shown in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16.  They said, aside from the basic HFSS product category, it was difficult to see how the ad condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits.  

Clearcast argued that HFSS products were routinely described as a 'snack' rather than a 'treat'; the use of the word 'snack' was not in itself an implication of immoderate consumption.  They believed that, rather than encouraging or condoning immoderate consumption, the ad showed a good model of responsible consumption, with the boy eating a single Barny sponge with a glass of milk after a period of play and under the supervision of an adult.  Clearcast believed the ad complied with all food advertising rules.


1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the ad stated in the voice-over that the product was made with wheat, chocolate and eggs, and those ingredients together with a jug of milk and jug of oil were also shown on a kitchen table, as well as appearing as part of the imaginary landscape.  No claims were made that those ingredients, or the product as a whole, were a healthy option or gave any health benefit.  We noted the on-screen text stating "No artificial colours. No preservatives" but considered that in the context of the ad the claim presented information about the product rather than implying the product had general health benefits.

We also noted the child was shown doing physical activities. However, we considered there was no implication that such healthy activity was as a consequence of eating the product, but more the result of a lively imagination.  

We considered that the ad provided information about the content of a Barny sponge snack bar, but did not make a general health claim about the product or its ingredients.  We therefore concluded that the ad had not breached the Code.

On that point, we investigated under BCAP Code rule  13.4.3 13.4.3 References to general benefits of a nutrient or food for overall good health or health-related well-being are acceptable only if accompanied by a specific authorised health claim  (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims), but did not find it in breach.  

2. Not upheld

We noted there was a bowl of fruit on the table and the mother gave the child a glass of milk before he was given the Barny cake bar.   We considered that it was clear that the cake bar was part of a snack, rather than being a snack on its own.  

We considered that referring to the Barny bar as a "snack" did not suggest that it should be consumed frequently or in excess, but was simply an option for a quick small bite to eat.  There was no suggestion that it should be consumed frequently or in excess, or chosen in preference to healthier snack alternatives; the child was not shown actively choosing a Barny bar over the fruit.

The boy was supervised in his eating by his mother and was not shown eating to excess.  We considered that the ad did not condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle and concluded that it did not breach the Code.

On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule  13.2 13.2 Advertisements must avoid anything likely to condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle, especially in children.  (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims).


No further action necessary.


13.2     13.4.3    

More on