Costa Coffee Radio Ad Banned for Poking Fun at Avocados

By John Smithies, Epoch Times
October 3, 2018 Updated: October 3, 2018

LONDON—A radio advertisement for the coffee chain Costa has been banned for suggesting that customers should buy a bacon sandwich rather than avocados.

The voiceover in the ad, which was heard in late June, stated, “There’s a great deal on ripen-at-home avocados. Sure, they’ll be hard as rock for the first 18 days, three hours and 20 minutes, then they’ll be ready to eat, for about 10 minutes. Then, they’ll go off.”

The ad encouraged people to go to Costa Coffee, to “grab a delicious, piping hot bacon roll or egg muffin” instead. But two listeners complained that the ad discouraged people from selecting fresh fruit, which is against advertising rules.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which regulates advertising in the UK, upheld the complaints and has banned the ad.

Costa’s defense was that the ad “centered on the frustration and unpredictability of the avocado” and that they weren’t suggesting that listeners should make a choice between two items, but rather were informing people about a promotional offer.

Radiocentre, which had cleared the Costa ad for broadcast, said consumers were more likely to regard the ad as a “lighthearted remark about the common experience of buying inedible avocados.” However, the ASA upheld the complaints, because “consumers would interpret the ad as a comparison between the experience of eating an avocado and a bacon roll or egg muffin.”

They added, “Although the ad was lighthearted, it nevertheless suggested avocados were a poor breakfast choice, and that a bacon roll or egg muffin would be a better alternative, and, in doing so, discouraged the selection of avocados.”

The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising regulates all radio and television ads, and states that comparisons between foods mustn’t discourage the selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Other Ads Banned

It’s not the first time that ads have fallen foul of rules on healthy eating.

Earlier this year, Cadbury became one of the first companies to have an ad banned under rules that crack down on junk food ads targeting children.

In July, the ASA banned the company from promoting a storybook called “The Tale of the Great Easter Bunny,” which features children hunting for Cadbury purple Easter eggs, because the ad was directed at children.

It breached rules prohibiting the advertising of foods that are high in fat, salt, or sugar toward children under the age of 16.

And in August, KFC was told to remove an ad for a Mars drink that was on a phone box close to an elementary school. It was, therefore, likely to have an audience of children under the age of 16.

In a previous interview with The Epoch Times, Christopher Snowden, from the free-market think tank Institute of Economic Affairs, said that banning ads isn’t the answer.

“This stuff is very rarely aimed at children,” Snowden said. “It’s always aimed at adults and they just use children as a Trojan horse to bring in all the laws and intervention that they want to bring in.”

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