ASA gives thumbs up to Vernon Kay ad for Flora

Unilever has escaped a ticking off by the advertising watchdog after it ruled that a TV ad for the company's Flora brand featuring presenter Vernon Kay and his mum did not breach advertising rules over health claims.

The TV ad claimed that Flora has 45% less saturated fat than olive oil.

The ad, created by DDB, showed Kay and his mother talking in the kitchen, while she cooked for him.

Kay asks what his mother is using to cook with, and she replies: "Flora Cuisine, 45% less saturated fat than olive oil."

Kay asks, "Really?" and his mother responds, "Yeah, I’m looking after your little ticker".

A voiceover said: "New Flora Cuisine: it's star treatment for the hearts you love," while text running on the bottom of the screen stated: "As part of a healthy diet and lifestyle".

The ad received six complaints that challenged whether the health claim that the new Flora product contained 45% less saturated fat than olive oil could be substantiated, and whether the ads implied that Flora Cuisine provided more health benefits for people’s hearts than olive oil.

EU regulations introduced in June established a list of permitted health claims made on foods.

The complainants challenged the suggestion that Flora Cuisine had health benefits for the heart that olive oil did not.

However, Unilever submitted Department of Health research to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) showing that many UK diets contain too much saturated fat. The FMCG giant said that reducing saturated fat, along with the omega 3 oils and fatty acids contained within the product, is a benefit for heart health.

The ASA recognised that the claim compared Flora Cuisine against olive oil, but decided the ad did not suggest that Flora Cuisine is a low in saturated fat product, nor did it appear misleading in its comparisons with olive oil.

The ASA added that from mid-December, general non-specific health claims, such as, "I'm looking after your little ticker," would need to be accompanied by an authorised specific claim in future advertising.

The ASA ruled that no further action was required.