In Brief

Anti-avocado Costa ad banned by watchdog

Radio spot suggested customers swap the fruit for a bacon roll

170501-wd-avocado.jpg

A radio advert by Costa Coffee has been banned because it encouraged customers to buy a bacon roll rather than avocados.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint that the ad broke guidelines barring advertisers from condoning unhealthy dietary choices.

As part of a campaign to promote the chain’s breakfast deal, the voiceover made fun of “ripen at home” avocados, describing them as “hard as rock for the first 18 days, three hours and 20 minutes... then they'll be ready to eat, for about ten minutes, then they'll go off”.

Instead, punters were urged to “head to Costa Coffee and grab a delicious, piping hot bacon roll or egg muffin”.

After the campaign aired in June, “two listeners complained that the ad… discouraged people from opting for fresh fruit”, the BBC reports.

Costa claimed the voiceover script “drew upon comical anecdotes shared by consumers on the frustration of buying an avocado and trying to predict when it would ripen”, ad industry news website The Drum reports. The company denied encouraging consumers to make a “definitive choice” between breakfast items.

In its ruling, the ASA accepted that the ad spot was “light-hearted”, but nonetheless still placed “emphasis on negative aspects of buying avocados” compared to bacon rolls or egg muffins, in breach of Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) guidelines.

Section 13.2 of the Broadcast CAP Code states that advertisers must not appear to “condone or encourage poor nutritional habits”, while 13.5 states that “comparisons between foods must not discourage the selection of options such as fresh fruit and fresh vegetables”.

The watchdog said that the ad must not air again, and advised Costa that future campaigns “must not condone or encourage poor nutritional habits and not disparage good dietary practice”.

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