Tesco horsemeat ad saddled with damning whole industry

Tesco's post-horsemeat scandal press ad has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 02 Oct 2013
Tesco’s attempt at sincerity in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, an advert run in newspapers titled, ‘What burgers have taught us,’ has been banned by the ASA because it implicated the whole food industry.
The ASA ruled the ad, run in February at the pinnacle of the horsemeat debacle, implied all retailers and suppliers were involved when very few instances of contamination had been identified at the time.
Tesco’s share price fell in January when tests carried out in Ireland found traces of horsemeat in some of the burgers sold in its stores.
The case had been brought to the attention of the ASA, by two people including an independent butcher, who felt unfairly tarnished by the ad. The ad talks about the prevalence of horsemeat as if it were industry wide but many suppliers and retailers were unaffected by the issue, including Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencers and Waitrose. The ASA has decided to act, but banning an ad six months after it has run feels like closing the stable door long after the horse has bolted.
‘We are disappointed with this decision, but accept that the ASA has taken a very literal view of the wording in the advert,’ said a Tesco spokesperson.
‘We think our customers understood that our aim with the advert was to set out the action we had taken in relation to the horsemeat crisis and to acknowledge the fact the issue had serious consequences not just for Tesco, but for the whole of the food industry.’
The ad might be long gone but the bad press surrounding its advertising won’t be welcomed by Tesco. This is the latest in a long line of advertising complaints being fielded by Britain’s largest supermarket. A couple of week’s ago it had to fork out £300,000 over one of its strawberry offers, and it is involved in an ongoing clash with Sainsbury’s over its price comparison ads.
Here’s the ad in question:

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