The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a radio ad for Costa Coffee after it was ruled the ad discouraged the consumption of avocados as a breakfast choice- instead boosting the profile of the humble bacon sandwich.
The Costa ad, produced by BBH London, featured a voice-over which asserted: “Oh, 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. For a better deal head to Costa Coffee and grab a delicious, piping hot bacon roll or egg muffin for just £2 when you buy any medio or massimo hot drink or flat white before 11am.”
According to Costa Coffee, the ad was a harmless gag, focusing on the “frustration and unpredictability of the avocado.” The brand said the script was drawn from comical anecdotes based on widespread consumers’ experiences, and the frustration of trying to predict when an avocado ripened after purchasing. It was not, as the ASA alleged, “suggesting to listeners to make a definitive choice over two breakfast items.”
Radiocentre, the industry body for commercial radio and the gatekeeper for broadcast advertising, backed Costa’s claims. Consumers would see the comparison as a “light-hearted remark about the common experience of buying inedible avocados when compared to buying an instant hot coffee and bacon roll or egg muffin,” the body said.
Still, the ASA did not agree, with the watchdog adamant that “consumers would interpret the ad as a comparison between the experience of eating an avocado and a bacon roll or egg muffin.” It noted the UK’s BCAP Code, a guideline for advertisers, stated that brands must not discourage the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Although the ad was light-hearted,” the ASA went on to rule, “it nevertheless suggested avocados were a poor breakfast choice, and that a bacon roll or egg muffin would be a better alternative.” The ad is not to be broadcast again, and future Costa marketing efforts must not “condone or encourage poor nutritional habits and not disparage good dietary practice.”
The ASA has recently also cracked down on advertising by Kinder, KFC and Kelloggs in a bid to tackle the UK’s national obesity crisis, tackling advertisers that market salty, sugary and fatty foods.