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ASA upholds Honey Nut Shredded Wheat 'no added sugar' complaint

“We considered that viewers would understand the 'no added … sugar' claim to apply to all products,
“We considered that viewers would understand the 'no added … sugar' claim to apply to all products," ASA rules

Cereal Partner UK's advert for Honey Nut Shredded Wheat is misleading in its use of a 'no added sugar' claim meant for its Shredded Wheat Original counterpart, the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled. 

ASA has ordered Cereal Partners UK to alter its TV ad or remove it entirely. 

The advert featured both Honey Nut Shredded Wheat and Shredded Wheat Original and Bitesize, the former of which contains added sugar in the form of honey; the latter of which contains no added sugar.

A complaint had been issued stating that the 'no added sugar' claim appeared to be for both products featured - a claim that the ASA agreed with given the advert contained the same theme, character and setting throughout.

The ad began with a man in period costume exercising and playing in wheat fields, a voice-over stated: "Back in 1893, Henry Perky put his heart into keeping healthy and came upon a breakfast that would help look after it. With no added salt or sugar that same breakfast helps keep your heart healthy today."

The same man then featured in the following scene eating honey as a voice over described the Honey Nut Shredded Wheat product.

Want a little sugar in your bowl?

The Nestlé-owned Cereal Partners UK said that the advert was actually two-part, and said the closing frame of each section meant “the average consumer would recognize that there were two distinct and separate sections for different products”.

Clearcast and ASA at odds

Clearcast, an NGO which pre-approves most British TV advertizing, agreed with Cereal Partners UK that the two products were clearly demarcated, adding that viewers would infer from the line "Love Honey? You'll love Honey Nut Shredded Wheat topped with delicious honey and nuts" that this variety contained added sugar.

However, in its final assessment ASA upheld the complaint, and said: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Cereal Partners UK to ensure that future ads for multiple products made clear to which product the relevant nutritional claims applied.” 

ASA acknowledged that the two sections separated by a pack-shot and logo 'peel' referred to different products and their respective nutritional profiles. However, it said certain continuities meant “consumers were consequently likely to interpret the ad as one whole, rather than two separate sections”.

“We considered that viewers would therefore understand the "no added ... sugar" claim to apply to all products with only the addition of natural honey, rather than supplementary sugar, in the Honey Nut variety. Because we understood that this was not the case and that Honey Nut Shredded Wheat did contain additional sugar, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.”

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