However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had no problem with the nudity in the ad. Instead, it banned it over the Kerry Foods-owned company's claim that Richmond Ham was "Britain’s only ham made with 100% natural ingredients."
The ad drew a total of 371 complaints, on five different counts. The majority of the complainants challenged whether the nudity in the ad was offensive.
Other complaints included a challenge on whether the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at time when children were likely to be watching.
Ten complainants challenged whether the claim "Britain's only had made with 100% natural ingredients" was misleading and whether it could be substantiated, because they understood many local producers and butchers also made 100% natural ham products.
Four complainants challenged whether the claims "made with 100% natural ingredients" and "as nature intended" were misleading and whether they could be substantiated, because they understood the product was processed and made with pork protein.
Kerry Foods had previously tried to counter the complaints about the level of nudity on show with a re-edited version without any nude bottom shots.
In its response to the ASA, Kerry Foods defended the level of nudity on display by stating the ad was designed to convey the core message about Richmond Ham's natural ingredients in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek , humorous manner consistent with its positioning as a family brand.
Kerry Foods said the ad demonstrated a well-adjusted and non-sexual attitude to the human body and that, before the ad launched, it was tested rigorously with its target audience of mums with children living at home, and had received an overwhelmingly positive response.
Clearcast – the broadcast vetting agency – said it did not consider the nudity in the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence because it was not sexual, voyeuristic or sleazy.
It said it did not feel the nudity was gratuitous, but rather that it was there to reinforce the brand's message of being 100% natural.
Defending itself against the second complaint, Kerry Foods said its media schedule was planned with its target audience in mind. The company said it abided by the restrictions put in place by Clearcast, and that the ad had only run in airtime that Ofcom classified as "adult".
Against the third complaint, Kerry Foods said it was confident it was the only producer currently able to make ham using 100% natural ingredients – supporting its argument by stating that it had undertaken a comprehensive market trawl of Mintel, which had not identified any other cooked hams made from 100% natural ingredients.
Addressing the fourth complaint, Kerry Foods said the phrase "as nature intended" was used lyrically to further convey the message that the ingredients used in the product were derived directly from nature.
Richmond Ham escaped censure by the ASA on four of the five counts, including the complaints about the nudity in the ad.
However, the ad was banned over its claim of describing the product as "Britain's only ham made with 100 per cent natural ingredients." The ASA said it was likely to be interpreted by consumers as meaning the product was British in origin, when in fact that was not the case.
The ASA ruled that the claim was misleading and banned the ad.Follow @johnreynolds10