Advertised as Burger King’s first 'plant-based' offering, the new Whopper received bad press from the outset.
Launched back in January, coinciding with Veganuary, first, there was suspicion as to why it had regimentally committed to the vegan cookbook and then added egg-based mayonnaise at the final step. And then it was found that the burger was cooked on a griddle used also for beef patties.
Following the product's launch, the ASA received 10 complaints by people concerns about three different ads spotted on Twitter and Facebook for the Rebel Whopper. They felt that the ads were was misleading and made viewers assume the burgers were made for vegans and vegetarians - when its ingredients said otherwise.
All those who complained understood that the burger was not suitable for vegans, vegetarians or those with egg allergies, and challenged the claim on the ads that the burger was ‘100% Whopper No Beef’ and a ‘plant-based burger.’ They also questioned the round logo that stated, ‘powered by the vegetarian butcher’.
In its defence, Burger King pointed to the small print in the ads that stated that the Rebel Whopper may not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it was cooked alongside other meat products.
Further, it said this was clearly communicated to journalists and on social media posts. In response to the addition of the logo, it said the TV ad did not include it. On top of this, Burger King said that customers could remove mayonnaise as an option.
Considering this, the ASA still felt customers would understand the claims ‘100% Whooper. No Beef’ alongside ‘plant-based burger’ would mean the burger did not contain any beef or animal products.
It also found fault with the logo, which due to the green colour palette, would further the impression that the product was suitable for vegans and vegetarians, as well as the timing of the product launch, that coincided with ‘Veganuary,’
It felt the overall impression of the ad was that it was suitable for vegans and vegetarians and told Burger King the ads should not appear again in their current form.