‘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

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