Hovis rolls advert not misleading, says ASA

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Advertising Brand Hovis

A claim that an advert for Hovis rolls from leading UK manufacturer, Premier Foods, was misleading consumers has been rejected by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Real Bread Campaign made the complaint about a Hovis ‘Rolls’ advert saying that the slogan ‘as good today as it’s always been’ should not be used in its Hovis advertising considering “40 per cent of the brand’s income now comes from additive laden white loaves.’​’

The campaigners, who aim to increase the production and consumption of bread that does not contain “artificial additives and other non-food substances’​’ said the manufacturer is also misleading the public by the use of imagery inferring that Hovis rolls are handmade by a craft baker rather than in an automated industrial plant.

The UK food pressure group also claimed that the commercial production of modern Hovis products involved the use of an unspecified improver and undeclared processing aids.

The campaign’s working party chair Iain Loe said that it is urging consumers to contact the ASA to reconsider its ruling and it is calling for Hovis to withdraw all advertising using the slogan.

Hovis defence

In response, Premier Foods said the claim ‘as good today as it’s always been’ had appeared in Hovis advertising in one form or another since the early 1900s. They added that the claim had recently featured in another TV advert, which they understood had been seen by a large percentage of the UK viewing population without complaint.

Eating habits had changed significantly over the 100 years, continued Premier Foods, and part of this change was reflected in the advert, in that it depicted progress through the ‘timeline’ portrayed and “was intended to convey the message that Hovis’ brand values continued to be upheld throughout the changes.”

And the manufacturer said that, historically, there had never been a unique recipe or process for Hovis bread, and that it contained no undeclared improver.

Viewers’ interpretation

The ASA, in issuing its ruling, said that it believed viewers would understand that the exact ingredients of contemporary Hovis products might differ from those used in a product from 1886. “We noted the claim stated “as good today…”, but not, for example, “the same recipe today …,”​ said the Authority.

“We also noted the original Hovis bread was a wheatgerm-based loaf, whereas the advert referred to a new range of rolls,”​ continued the ASA.

And it said that it considered that viewers were unlikely to infer from the advert, as a whole and in context, that Hovis products were manufactured in exactly the same way as they always had been or that the ingredients of the products within the advert were the same as the original Hovis Wheatgerm loaf.

Market share

Over the last two years, Premier Foods has increased Hovis’s market share of the UK bread market by four percentage points up to 26.3 per cent.

Eva Wheeler, brand controller for Hovis, Premier Foods, said it achieved this growth through reformulating existing products, investing millions in new equipment and by significantly increasing the amount of in-house and consumer taste tests that it conducted.

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