The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has recently released its finding on the complaint laid by Unilever against Mars. In its complaint, Unilever alleged that Mars was using misleading packing for its Royco soup. The packing of the soup contained the words “for every pack you buy, you feed a hungry child”. Unilever argued that consumers purchasing the soup were being misled to believe that when they purchased the soup, a donation would be made to hungry children by Mars and that a consumer might make their purchase based on this impression.

Mars argued that the packaging was not misleading and that there was a nationwide soup kitchen initiative with its partner Shoprite Checkers (Pty) Ltd which commenced in 2007. They are the sole supplier of the soup. The initiative has grown and expanded to 12 mobile soup kitchens. They further argued that each month Shoprite purchased an order for its anticipated requirements of Royco soup. They said however that the value of the contribution derived from  sales of these packages could not be prospectively determined as the orders are varied.

The ASA considered clause 4.2.1 of Section II of the code that states that “advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presenstation which directly or indirectly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or otherwise is likely to mislead the consumer”.

It further considered clause 4 of Section III which provides that advertisements claiming that the purchase of a product will support some charitable or good cause are acceptable provided that the advertisement contains the following details:

  • The amount to be donated;
  • The name of the charity or good cause; and
  • The duration of the campaign.

The ASA found that the packaging was misleading and in contravention with clause 4 of Section III as it did not meet the requirement.

Mars was therefore withdraw its advertisement as the complaint was upheld.