Twinings tea ads escape censure by watchdog

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected complaints that an ad campaign for tea brand Twinings is racist.

The ads for its Lady Grey and Earl Grey teas featured comedian Stephen Fry working behind the counter in a teashop with a young American black man called Tyrone. The ads had the strapline: “Try something different. Try Twinings”.

It was claimed the campaign, which was created by Lowe, played on a negative racial stereotype of a black man as sexually promiscuous and, in one ad, suggested he was there to provide sexual services for white women.

Lowe says the character was chosen to act as a comedic counterfoil to Fry’s Englishness.

The ASA ruled that although the ads featured “mild sexual innuendo, the issue of race was not a factor”.

It has also cleared ads for Heinz Farmers’ Market Soups after complaints from food lobby group, Sustain, and rival food companies that Heinz implied the ingredients were sourced from farmers’ markets. The campaign was created by McCann Erickson.

The ASA said viewers would realise that “it was unlikely that a canned product, distributed on a national scale, would be made from ingredients sourced locally from farmers’ markets”.

Meanwhile, complaints about press ads for car manufacturer Renault have been upheld. The Renault Twingo ads featured leaves coming from the car’s exhaust and the words “eco-logical” and “eco-nomical” using the company’s “Eco2” logo.

The ASA ruled that as the car was in band C of the Vehicle Excise Duty emissions rankings, the ecological claim exaggerated the model’s green credentials and was misleading.

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