In each of my visits home to England, as I sit lazing on the sofa enjoying the company of my family and home surroundings, I always marvel at the joy of watching a television that I can understand without trying. More specifically, I marvel at the adverts; not only do I catch the jokes straight off and understand the jingles without cocking my ear, but they are generally of a much better standard than Spanish ads. They seem punchier, smarter, and don’t make the instant assumption that the viewers are either idiots or small children.
At least that was what I thought until I saw the ad for Nutella (1). It depicts several brightly coloured toasters that cheerily spit out freshly browned bread, flinging it into the waiting hands of a flock of mothers, ready to slather it with Nutella for their waiting children.
After blabbing about the daily choice of what to eat for breakfast, the voiceover lady tells us that “surprisingly, each 15g portion of Nutella contains two whole hazelnuts, some skimmed milk and cocoa”.
Wow! Two whole hazelnuts!
What irks me about this ad is that not only is it trying to promote the health benefits of a product that is quite obviously not all that good for us, but also that those benefits it is emphasising are somewhat pathetic and misleading. Two hazelnuts? A little lame, no? And skimmed milk? A little misleading; reduced fat dairy products are denatured and left without the butterfat that helps us digest its calcium and protein. Hardly what I’d call healthy.
In her neat and snappy description of the ingredients in the product, Nutella’s lady-voice also forget to tell us that the two main components are actually not nuts, nor milk, nor cocoa, but sugar and vegetable oil. Now, I don’t think there’s anyone that can make a convincing plea for the health benefits of sugar. And vegetable oil is implicated in a whole host of illnesses, from heart disease to osteoporosis to cancer, full as it is of polyunsaturated fats that our bodies don’t know what to do with.
It seems that this ad, or at least one very similar was actually banned in the UK in early 2008, judged by the Advertising Standards Agency to be misleading on several counts (2). Somehow, however, it is back, trying to convince us of its family wholesomeness and the health benefits of its mélange of oily sickliness.
And, to top it all off, the music on the ad is really annoying too.
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays, hosted at www.foodrenegade.com