ASA to ban ‘best selling’ Uncle Ben’s rice press ads

Masterfoods has been banned from using a press ad for its Uncle Ben’s brand for making “ambiguous” sales claims. It follows a spat with rival rice brand Tilda over which brand is the leader in the dry rice category.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint from Tilda disputing Masterfoods claim that it is the “No 1 branded dry rice”. Tilda argued that its dry rice is the market leader by volume and value and provided data to support this.

Masterfoods responded by supplying data showing that Uncle Ben’s was the biggest selling brand in terms of value sales between January and July 2006. It also provided data showing sales by volume was lower than Tilda, but argued that this was not a reflection of the market.

Masterfoods did admit that the smallprint supporting the claim did not clarify that it was based on sales by value but argued that it did not make the claim misleading.

The ASA noted that Masterfood’s claim was based on sales by value but it added that because it did not clarify this, it suggested that Uncle Ben’s sold more rice than its competitors.

The ASA warned Masterfoods to make sure that comparative claims are explained in future ads.

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