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Mondelez’s Barny cake ad escapes ASA ruling following claims it encouraged unhealthy habits in children

Mondelez’s advert for a cake bar, which feature an animated bear and a young boy walking through a chocolate river, has escaped a ban by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after viewers complained it encouraged unhealthy eating habits in children.

The TV ad, created by McGarrybowen, showed a young boy sitting at a kitchen table when an animated bear took his hand. They were shown running through a field of wheat, before walking on stilts through a river of chocolate and bouncing on a hill made of sponge cake. The boy then landed back in the kitchen.

A voice-over stated: "Introducing Barny, a sponge snack made with ingredients like wheat, chocolate and eggs. Keep the adventure going with Barny." The kitchen table was shown with a pile of wheat, lumps of chocolate, a jug of milk, eggs and a jug of golden liquid.

On-screen text stated "No artificial colours. No preservatives". The boy was then shown with his mother eating the cake bar next to a glass of milk and a bowl of fresh fruit.

Five complaints were received by the ASA, with three viewers questioning whether the ad implied a health claim, and two challenging whether the ad condoned poor eating habits in children by referring to the product as a snack.

Mondelez’s response claimed that there were no references to the product or its ingredients as having any health or nutritional benefits, and that the product represented a reasonable snack suggestion and was not out of line with current guidance on snacking.

It added that the ad featured physical activity and the child's consumption was shown as controlled, with the child sitting at a table being supervised by an adult.

Clearcast supported Mondelez’s claims and said that it was difficult to see how the ad condoned or encouraged poor nutritional habits, and that no health claims were made.

As a result, the ASA has cleared the advert of encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle.

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