Claims made by Burger King on social media that its new plant-based Rebel Whopper product is ‘100% beef-free’ were misleading, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled this week.
In a series of company Tweets and Facebook posts in January, the Rebel Whopper product was pictured alongside stickers proclaiming ‘100% WHOPPER. NO BEEF’, and in some cases the logo of The Vegetarian Butcher (the Burger King-owned manufacturer of the plant-based patty).
Several complainants challenged the ads on the grounds that the product is known to be unsuitable for vegans and vegetarians since it is cooked alongside meat products and egg-based mayonnaise, and that claims that it contains ‘no beef’ and is ‘plant-based’ were therefore misleading.
The green colour palette and the timing of the ad and product release to coincide with Veganuary contributed further to the impression that the product was suitable for vegans
In response, Burger King said it had been ‘clear and transparent’ in its marketing. “We communicated from the outset that the Rebel Whopper is aimed at a flexitarian audience,” the fast food chain said in a statement. The company added that some ads for the product included small print saying ‘cooked alongside meat products’.
But, said the ASA, the ‘overall impression was that the burger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans’. It added: “The green colour palette and the timing of the ad and product release to coincide with Veganuary contributed further to the impression that the product was suitable for vegans and vegetarians.”
The ASA ruled therefore that the ads had been misleading and must not be used again in the same form.