Tetley in trouble with ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld its original decision against a television advertisement for Tetley, after complaints about implied health benefits. Following an initial ruling that the advertisement should be taken off-air, Tetley requested an independent review of the decision – however, Sir John Caines, the Independent Reviewer of ASA Adjudications, has also ruled against the tea company.
The TV commercial, from early 2009, showed a woman at home warming up for exercise. It appeared that she was going for a jog, but when she saw it was raining she went back into the house and made a cup of tea instead. A voice-over said: “For an easy way to help look after yourself, pick up Tetley Green Tea. It’s full of antioxidants”. On-screen text stated “As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle”.
Four viewers challenged whether the ad was misleading because it implied that Tetley green tea had the same or similar health benefits as exercise.
In its response, Tetley pointed out that the ad clearly promoted Tetley green tea as ‘part of’ a healthy lifestyle, not to suggest that it could replace exercise. Tetley said that green tea had been shown to be rich in antioxidants and said that all health professionals agreed that antioxidants were an integral part of a healthy balanced diet.
The ASA noted that Tetley intended to portray a woman supplementing an already-healthy lifestyle with a drink that was hydrating and contained antioxidants, but considered that her being discouraged from exercise by the weather could have led the audience to see her as someone who exercised ‘now and then’, and that she thus did indeed choose green tea as a replacement for exercise.
Although the ASA appears to have accepted that Tetley did not intend to misleadingly suggest that its green tea had the same health benefits as exercise, the authority still ruled that Tetley’s supporting evidence, in the form of medical research studies, was insufficient to substantiate an implied claim of general health benefits.
The ASA ruled that the ad must not be broadcast again in its current form, and said: “we told Tetley not to imply that a product had greater health benefits than it did if they did not hold substantiation for the implied claims”.

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