Wellington's new tomato sauce’s recipe is old news

10 November 2017 - 16:51 By Ernest Mabuza
NOT SO SAUCY: Tiger Brands, producer of brands such as All Gold tomato sauce, faces a multiplicity of economic challenges.
NOT SO SAUCY: Tiger Brands, producer of brands such as All Gold tomato sauce, faces a multiplicity of economic challenges.

The makers of Wellington’s Tomato Sauce have been ordered to remove the word “new” from its product‚ which has been in circulation for more than 18 months.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) made this ruling this week when it partly upheld a complaint by Tiger Consumer Products‚ which said Heinz Foods was misleading in advertising its tomato sauce.

Attorneys Spoor & Fisher lodged a competitor complaint on behalf of Tiger against in-store adverts and a TV commercial for Wellington’s Tomato Sauce.

The in-store advertising claims‚ among other things‚ that "75% of people surveyed would switch to Wellington’s Tomato Sauce*”.

The following disclaimer appears in a circle around the claim: “*In a Home Tester Club survey of 430 respondents‚ 7.5 out of 10 people surveyed said they would switch to Wellington’s Tomato Sauce from their existing brand.” In addition‚ Tiger complained that the product packaging of Wellington’s featured on the in-store adverts and in the TV commercial showed the claim‚ “New recipe”.

Tiger‚ which produces All Gold Tomato Sauce‚ said the hypothetical reasonable consumer would interpret the claim to mean that a survey was conducted in South Africa‚ and that 75% of respondents said they would “switch” from their “existing brand” to Wellington’s Tomato Sauce.

Tiger submitted that as far as it was aware‚ Heinz had been using the words “new recipe” in the advertising and on the packaging of Wellington’s Tomato Sauce for at least 18 months‚ and potentially even as long as two years.

In its response‚ Heinz said the claim in its in-store promotions specifically referred to “75% of people surveyed”. It said there was never a claim of "75% of South Africans would switch”‚ or "75% would switch”.

Heinz also said the original recipe of Wellington’s Tomato Sauce was still available to consumers.

It said the word “new” referred to a new version of the tomato sauce‚ which was launched after the original recipe‚ and was being used to clearly distinguish the products for the benefit of the consumer.

In its ruling‚ the ASA directorate dismissed Tiger’s complaint on the 75% switch claim.

“(Heinz’s) claim is qualified by a clear disclaimer stating that the claim is based on the results of a home tester club test. The directorate is therefore satisfied that a reasonable consumer would be able to judge the claim in that context‚ and not be misled as to the scope of the claim‚” ASA said in its ruling.

On the “new recipe” claim‚ the directorate said the Code of Advertising Practice stated that the word "new” or words implying "new” may be used in all media‚ packaging‚ posters‚ bill and boards‚ for any entirely new product sold during a given 12-month period.

ASA said the reasonable consumer would understand the word “new” to be a differentiator from the “original”. “The word ‘new’ rather communicates just that – that this is a ‘new’ recipe.”

ASA said the clause in the code made it clear that Heinz could not refer to the newer of the two products as “new” indefinitely‚ just because the older product was still available.