Cereal Partners UK has defended its cinema advert for Nestlé Cookie Crisp breakfast cereal and the health values of the product, following a complaint claiming it encouraged an unhealthy lifestyle in children.
The complaint, filed with the UK’s Adertising Standards Agency (ASA), was not upheld, but Cereal Partners UK avidly defended the positioning of the cereal to children and its nutritional profile.
The complaint claimed that the advert, which promoted the additional chocolate chip content and was shown before the U-rated film ‘Monsters University’ in the afternoon, disparaged good dietary practice and encouraged poor nutritional habits.
Additional chocolate chips, but sugar reduction
However, Cereal Partners UK bit back, stating that the additional ‘chips’ were not chocolate chips in the traditional confectionery sense, but “visual representations of ‘chocolate chips’ that might be found in a cookie”.
It added that because of these additional chips, the company had reduced the sugar content of the cereal by 26.5%.
It also argued that the vitamin, mineral and whole grain content of the product was high, tackling inadequate micronutrient intakes among 4- to 18-year olds in the UK. It said the cereal provided 18-30% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of nine vitamins and minerals.
Cereal Partners UK said the ad promoted, rather than disparaged positive dietary practices.
“The ad suggested the cereal was a breakfast option but there was no suggesting that it should be consumed throughout the day or more than once a day. Furthermore, the characters were shown consuming no more than three spoonfuls of the cereal from a reasonably-sized cereal bowl,” the company said.
Cereal Partners UK also said it had “taken steps to ensure that children’s exposure to the ad was regulated”. They said the advert had been scheduled to only feature in films where less than 35% of the audience was expected to be children under 12 years. This, it said, was based on agency data.
ASA: The cereal is still high in sugar, but ad doesn’t encourage bad eating
The ASA acknowledged that the Cookie Crisp cereal did contain “relatively high” amounts of sugar – 24.5g of sugar per 100g – even though it also contained ingredients that contributed to a healthy diet.
It also said the animated advert and the product was appealing to children.
However, it said the advert that featured children catching cereal from the sky in their bowls at the end was “not sufficient to condone or encourage frequent or excessive consumption of the product”.
It added that there was nothing in the advert to suggest an inactive or sedentary lifestyle was better than physical activity.