‘Misleading’ Tesco horse meat ad banned

A Tesco ad that apologised to consumers over the horse meat scandal that engulfed the supermarket earlier this year has been judged “misleading” because it implied the entire food industry had issues with meat standards.


The ad in question (see picture below) was part of a was a two-page campaign in the national press taken out after horse meat was found in some of Tesco’s meat products, such as burgers and spaghetti bolognese, when the packaging said it they contained beef. 

The ad read: “The problem we’ve had with some of our meat lately is about more than burgers and bolognese. It’s about some of the ways we get meat to you dinner table. It’s about the whole food industry. And it has made us realise, we really do need to make it better. We’ve been working on it, but we need to keep going, go further, move quicker. We know that our supply chain is too complicated. So we’re making it simpler … Seriously. This is it. We are changing.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the ad “implied” all retailers and suppliers were likely to have sold products contaminated with horse meat, when in actual fact relatively few instances had been identified when the ad appeared. 

In defence, Tesco said the ads were aimed at showing customers it was taking the horse meat issue seriously and being proactive in addressing concerns. It also claimed the ad focused solely on Tesco by using wording such as “our meat” and “the problem we’ve had”. 

The ruling is a hit for Tesco as it attempts to rebuild trust in its brand after the scandal, although its scope is limited as Tesco has no plans to run similar ads again. 

A separate complaint that the ad “unfairly denigrated” other food suppliers that were not caught up in the scandal was not upheld. The ASA highlighted that Tesco did not reference specific food suppliers and other companies or products could not be identified. 

Tesco horse meat ad

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here