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Uncle Tobys Oats claim of being a ‘protein superfood’ ruled misleading by ad watchdog

An ad for Uncle Tobys Oats has fallen foul of the ad watchdog after it decided a claim the product is a “naturally rich in protein superfood” to be misleading.

Complaints against the TV ad suggested it was “dishonest” and oversold the product with one saying: “My first impression of the advertisement was to question why I never knew that oats were high in protein and why I had never seen that claim on oats before.

“The first time I saw the ad, I missed the clarifying statement at the bottom of the screen. … As a person who makes up their oats with water, and uses oats in baking, I thought that this was deceptive.”

Courtesy of Savvy Media Monitoring

“I found the commercial to be quite confusing, contradictory and deceitful, especially when you consider that you can’t assume everyone eats oats with milk. I feel this television commercial tries in more ways than one to imply that oats are high in protein and I believe this commercial has the potential to mislead consumers as it did me,” another complaint said.

Uncle Tobys defended the spot, citing the Food Standards Code for a claim of high protein which “requires a minimum of 10g of protein per serve which is assessed on the food as prepared and consumed according to the instructions provided”.

“For those claims linked to the preparation of oats with skim milk, the basis of the claim is clearly depicted in the Advertisement through visual references, the voice-over and the onscreen super. We do not consider it reasonable to suggest that the product is ‘oversold’ because certain of the protein claims are not applicable to oats when consumed with water or in baking,” Uncle Tobys told the ASB.

However it was the board’s view the ad did not make clear the claim to be “naturally rich in protein superfood” was linked to the preparation of the product with skim milk.

The board considered that the final and closing part of the ad was “likely to leave a consumer with the impression that the product itself has a higher level of protein than it does”.

The board ruled the overall tone of the ad creates an “impression that Oats are naturally rich in protein when they are not and does not make sufficiently clear that the product needs to be combined with milk to achieve the heightened nutritional content of protein”.

The complaints were upheld.

In response to the ruling, Uncle Tobys said it would modify the end frame of the ad by revising the voiceover to state “oats with milk are naturally rich in protein” as well as increasing the size of the qualifier and bold the “with 2/3 cup of skim milk” wording as well as removing the text on the right of the screen in the end frame which states “naturally rich in protein superfood”.

Miranda Ward

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