Watchdog bins Heinz beans ad for second time

Kraft Heinz has been left with beans on its face after tweaking an ad that had previously been banned by the ASA, only to end up with a second caution for the same offence.

The aim of both versions was to raise awareness that Heinz baked beans are high in protein and fibre and low in fat. Both fell foul of the ASA for making those claims as a comparison with other food, which the advertising code forbids except in limited circumstances, and both had been approved by Clearcast.

The two versions featured very similar dialogue, which was truncated in the later version and with a key change made to one word that Heinz had been advised by Clearcast would bring the ad within the rules.

The ads’ scenario was a man coming into a kitchen in sweaty exercise gear carrying a flask full of brown liquid and being asked if he is hungry by a woman implied to be his wife or partner. He says he is "on a new regime", points to his drink and talks about the importance of protein, high fibre and minimal fat. The woman appears to have heard this before.

At this point in the first ad, she says "Same. We’re just about to have some beans" as the microwave pings and she pulls out a bowl of Heinz beans, which on-screen text states are "high in protein, high in fibre, low in fat".

Kraft Heinz said at the time of the ban in November 2017 that it planned to amend the ad, and its UK commerical director and chief marketing officer Steve Chantry told Campaign three months later that while the execution had been found at fault "the ASA is right behind us on the core nutrition messages we wanted to land".

In the revised ad, the woman says "Right. We’re just about to have some beans", instead of "Same. We’re just about to have some beans".

One person challenged whether the revised ad, screened in February this year, included a nutrition claim which complied with the advertising code. The same complaint was made by three people about the original ad, which was by Bartle Bogle Hegarty London.

Heinz again claimed that the ad did not make a comparative nutrition claim (although it did not repeat its defence of the first ad that viewers would not identify what the man’s drink was because the ad did not explicitly say what it was).

Clearcast also disputed the idea that the ad compared the two products, but the ASA disagreed and told Heinz not to repeat the ad.

Its ruling said: "We noted that the ad did not state that Heinz Beanz had greater or fewer nutritional benefits than the protein shake, however, we considered that the overall impression created by the ad was that Heinz Beanz contained as much protein, fibre and fat as a typical protein shake. We considered consumers would therefore interpret the ad as presenting Heinz Beanz as a tastier and more appetising, but nutritionally equivalent, alternative to consuming a protein shake."

A spokesman for Heinz said: "Heinz Beanz are naturally high in protein and fibre as well as being low in fat. That is not in question. Our popular TV ad, ‘Good without going on about it’, simply aimed to be a memory jogger about the goodness of beans in a humorous way which we believed fully met advertising requirements. Following the ASA ruling last year the ad was amended and once again Clearcast, the organization that checks that TV ads meet all advertising codes on behalf of broadcasters, gave their full approval. Although we are disappointed with the ASA decision we have no plans to run this particular TV ad again."

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