Jimmy Doherty ad for Red Tractor escapes ban despite 87 complaints

A TV ad for the Red Tractor farming scheme, featuring pig farmer and presenter Jimmy Doherty, has avoided a ban after being challenged by viewers, including the charity Compassion in World Farming.

The TV ad featured Doherty, a childhood friend of TV chef Jamie Oliver, on his farm. Pigs and piglets were filmed wandering around eating straw. Viewers challenged whether this created the misleading impression that all Red Tractor pigs were raised to free-range welfare standards.

Doherty’s script promoted the Red Tractor standard. It stated: "All pork, sausages and bacon carrying the Red Tractor mark is traceable back to Red Tractor farms. It is inspected to ensure all the pork you buy has come from pigs that are well looked after, raised to good standards by responsible farmers."

However, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, which created the ad and runs the Red Tractor scheme, argued it had made a concerted effort to include examples of non free-range outdoor farms and indoor pig accommodation to ensure a balanced depiction of farm types.

The AHDB pointed out that the proportion of shots of Jimmy Doherty's farm were not misleading or disproportionate, but illustrated, among others, a genuine Red Tractor farm and the standards applied.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) concluded the ad was not misleading, because its message was about being able to trace meat back to its originating farm.

It ruled: "No claims were made that all the pigs were outdoor bred, and images of indoor pig accommodation were shown, [so] we concluded that the images were unlikely to mislead viewers that all the pigs were free-range."