• Chocolate Pig Gives Ad Watchdog Indigestion
  • May 19, 2005
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • The Advertising Standards Complaint Board, the watchdog arm of the self-regulatory group that oversees New Zealand's advertising industry, has ruled that an advertisement for a one-kilogram chocolate Easter egg "encouraged children to eat excessive amounts of chocolate".

    The advertisement, published in March in a newspaper in Otago, New Zealand, showed a photograph of a 13-year-old holding a boxed Easter egg almost equal in size to her upper body. The box was labeled "What a PIG milk chocolate egg" and pictured an open-mouthed pig's head. Beside the girl were the words: "What a Pig Easter egg 1kg. You'll need a big appetite to get through this egg!"
    The complainant said the wording implies that the egg is to be eaten by one person instead of a group, which encourages excessive consumption of chocolate, and that judging from the proportions of the box, the ad was marketed towards young people. It noted that the advertiser, a local company called The Warehouse, had used the ad despite a ruling made against it before Easter last year for a similar advertisement.

    A spokesperson for The Warehouse said they did not believe any consumer would take the words, "you'll need a big appetite to get through this" literally. The spokesperson said the advertisement was different from the previous year, as that one had featured a child and this one featured an older 13-year-old child.

    The Board rejected The Warehouse's protestations, finding that the advertisement violated code provisions that all food advertisements, especially those directed at children, should be prepared with a high sense of social responsibility. The company also violated guidelines that advertisements should not encourage excessive consumption of any particular food, the board said.

    Significance: Some may question whether children need any encouragement to eat excessive amounts of chocolate. The New Zealand Advertising Standards Complaint Board, however, is not taking any chances.