Food & Agri Update - 5 April 2024

CMA publishes Undertakings on Green Claims in Fashion Sector

ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda have signed formal undertakings secured by the Competiton and Markets Authority (CMA) that commit them to change the way they display, describe, and promote their green credentials. 

Although this relates to the fashion sector there are useful parallels that may be made in the making of any green claims in food products.

The firms have each signed an undertaking that commits them to an agreed set of rules around the use of green claims. Amongst other things, these include:

  • Green claims: ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda must ensure all green claims are accurate and not misleading. Key information must be ‘clear and prominent’, meaning it must be expressed in plain language, easy to read, and clearly visible to shoppers.  The undertakings further reference what this means for both online and onpack product claims.
  • Further explanation on green fabric ranges must be specific and clear, referencing ‘organic’ or ‘recycled’, rather than more ambiguous phrases – e.g. using terms like ‘eco’, ‘responsible’, or ‘sustainable’, without further explanation. This means such claims are still permitted however further information is required.  The percentage of recycled or organic fibres must be clearly displayed and easy for customers to see. A product cannot be called ‘recycled’ or ‘organic’ unless it meets certain criteria. 
  • Criteria for green ranges: The criteria used to decide which products are included in environmental collections – such as ASOS’s former ‘Responsible edit’, Boohoo’s ‘Ready for the Future’ range, and George at Asda’s ‘George for Good’, and any further ranges – must be clearly set out and detail any minimum requirements. For example, if products need to contain a certain percentage of recycled fibres to be included in the range, this should be made clear. Products must not be marketed or labelled as part of an environmental range unless they meet all the relevant criteria.
  • Part of life cycle claim: Where an Environmental Claim is not based on all aspects or all parts of the Product’s life cycle, it must ‘Clearly and Prominently’ set out a summary of the parts or aspects of the life cycle to which the Environmental Claim relates to the extent necessary to ensure it is not misleading and any further information relating to the Environmental Claim
  • Use of imagery: The firms must not use ‘natural’ imagery – such as green leaves – logos, or icons to suggest a product is more environmentally friendly than it actually is.
  • Product filters: Search filters must be accurate, only showing items that meet the filter requirements – for example, if a consumer uses a filter to show ‘recycled’ trousers, only trousers made from predominantly recycled materials should be shown.
  • Environmental targets: Any claims made to consumers about environmental targets must be supported by a clear and verifiable strategy, and customers must be able to access more details about it. Such information should include what the target is aiming to achieve, the date by which it is expected to be met, and how the company in question will seek to achieve that target.
  • Accreditation schemes: Statements made by the companies about accreditation schemes and standards must not be misleading. For example, statements must make clear whether an accreditation applies to particular products or to the firm’s wider practices.

All 3 firms must also regularly provide the CMA with reports on how they are complying with the commitments they signed – as well as taking steps to improve their internal processes via internal documentation and training.

The CMA is set to build on its current Green Claims Code, with additional information that will be tailored to the fashion sector.

·  Open letter to the fashion sector into environmental claims (27.3.24)

·  Asda Undertaking (PDF, 253KB) (27.3.24)

·  ASOS Undertaking (PDF, 273KB) (27.3.24)

·  Boohoo Undertaking (PDF, 261KB) (27.3.24)

‘Clear and Prominent’ is provided further explanation within the Undertakings provided. This is defined as meaning, having regard to the overall impression of the display in its entirety, including commonly used features of online channels (covering desktop, mobile, app-based and other formats) and physical store design, information which is:

(a) Clear;

(b) presented in such a way as to enable consumers to easily identify, read and understand the relevant information as a whole;

(c) clearly visible in each location or is directly accessible;

(d) not obscured by other information which is shown to consumers, such as, but not limited to, information displayed in signs, banners and as pop-up text and images; and either:

(e) in close proximity to an Environmental Claim and-

(i) does not require consumers to take any further action to access the information (for example following a hyperlink or QR code or accessing information that is only revealed when consumers take action such as accessing text that is otherwise not displayed on the face of the screen or navigating to a particular area, including by scrolling to a different part of the display in the online context); and

(ii) is not displayed separately to the location of the claim (for example, on the other side of a tag or other label, on separate tags, labels or signage or only accessible by visiting a website while shopping in store); or  

If (f) is stated to apply the following requirements are listed instead of (e):

(f) displayed in close proximity to the Environmental Claim as follows:

(i) in an online context, via a drop-down menu (whereby a consumer may click to reveal further information, which is immediately displayed) on the same webpage or social media post on which the Product is made available to purchase, provided that the presentation of the drop-down menu complies with paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition of Clear and Prominent;

(ii) in an instore context, where the relevant Environmental Claim is made on a Product Label, on the back of that Product Label or on an adjacent Product Label, provided that the location of the relevant information is properly signposted (having regard to paragraphs (a) to (d) of the definition of Clear and Prominent) on the front of the Product Label or, where the relevant information appears on an adjacent Product Label, on the first Product Label.

‘Empowering Consumers’ Directive Passed – ‘Greenwashing’

On 26th March 2024, the Directive (EU) 2024/825 on empowering consumers for the green transition (Empowering Consumers Directive or ECD) entered into force, also commonly referred to as the ‘Greenwashing’ Directive. The Directive must be transposed into national law by 27th March 2026, and applied from 27th September 2026.

While the UK is not required to implement the ECD, entities trading in an EU member state will need to familiarise themselves with the changes.

The ECD covers all sustainability claims that relate to a product, a brand, a company, or a service.  It amends the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) and the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD).   

A summary illustration for what this may mean for green claims in the food sector is as follows:


  • Generic environmental claims which are not substantiated by a certification or heavy documentation, such as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘green’, ‘climate friendly’, ‘carbon neutral’, ‘energy efficient’, ‘biodegradable’, ‘biobased’, ‘conscious’, ‘responsible’, ‘fair’, ‘fairer’, ‘just’, and similar.
  • Claims about the whole product or its parts, such as recyclable (referring to the packaging), less packaging, less plastic, better new formula, its natural origin, etc.
  • Claims on durability, such as messages inducing consumers to replace the product earlier than technically required
  • Any unsubstantiated claim, message, logo as a whole


  • Sustainability labels based on certification schemes, or established by public authorities
  • Environmental claims with clear objectives, and easily verifiable commitments, targets, and independent monitoring systems

Substantiation and Communication of Explicit Environmental Claims or ‘Green Claims’ Directive

The ECD is meant to work together with the proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (the ‘Green Claims Directive’).  The Green Claims Directive will introduce stricter regulations on environmental claims and labelling and verification requirements.

The Green Claims Directive will provide for more details by setting minimum requirements on the substantiation and communication of voluntary specific environmental claims (non-generic) and their verification in a business-to-consumer (“B2C”) context.

  • Non-Generic - The rules would apply to explicit environmental claims.
  • Sustainability labels
  • Comparative claims and Future environmental performance claims

These claims would need to be assessed, substantiated and verified by a national third-party verifier.  All this information and substantiation must be made available to the consumer.

Organisations could also face exclusion from public procurements and financial penalties for failure to comply of up to 4% of their annual turnover.

The Green Claims Directive is now being reviewed by the Council of the EU and we expect to hear more on the text of this Directive and its implementation date following the European Parliament elections in June 2024.

Fairer food labelling - Consultation

A consultation has been launched on proposed food labelling changes. The UK government, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive jointly published this consultation.  The consultation closes on 7 May 2024.

Key areas:

1. Country of origin - proposals around clearer display of origin information on certain foods.

2. Method of production - proposals on mandatory labels and a five-tier system for pork, chicken, and eggs products.

The proposals for fairer food labelling are intended to ensure greater transparency around the origin of food and methods of production.

The consultation looks at how to improve country of origin labelling for certain goods, including how and where this information is displayed and what products should be included. For example, if imported pork is cured into bacon in the UK and features a Union Jack, exploring ways to make it more obvious to consumers that the pig was reared abroad – such as increasing the size of the country of origin text, or placing it on the front of the packet.

It also sets out proposals to require ‘method of production’ labelling on pork, chicken and eggs. These include a mandatory five-tier label for both domestic and imported products which would differentiate between those that fall below, meet and exceed baseline UK animal welfare regulations.

This would be required on  all domestic and imported unprocessed pork, chicken and eggs and certain prepacked and loose minimally processed products with pork, chicken or egg.

The consultation also seeks views on whether it should be mandatory requirement to state the origin of meat, seafood and dairy products outside of the home, for example on menus in cafes and restaurants, to give consumers access to the same information while dining out.

The consultation was announced by the Environment Secretary at the Oxford Farming Conference in January, and builds on commitments in the Government food strategy - GOV.UK ( and as highlighted in our Food Trends for 2024 blog Key food trends for 2024 - Mills & Reeve (

It follows recently announced measures designed to support farmers and promote fairness in the supply chain, including new regulations to ensure fair and transparent contracts for dairy farmers.

Regulated Products Reform Proposed

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is consulting on proposed changes to its Regulated Products Service (RPS).  Consultation pack is available here: Consultation pack on proposed reforms to the regulated products authorisation process (accessible version)

The joint Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) consultation concerns initial proposals for legislative reform to streamline the authorisation process for regulated products.

Certain food and feed products, called regulated products, require authorisation before they can be sold in the UK. These include food additives, flavourings, novel foods, GMOs as food and feed, food contact materials and feed additives.

The FSA intends to publish the outcome of its consultation in April, with an aim to lay the statutory instruments in July. 

The two proposals contained in this consultation are to:

  • remove renewal requirements for feed additives, food or feed containing, consisting of or produced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and smoke flavourings, and 
  • allow regulated product authorisations to come into effect on publication, likely to an official register, following a ministerial decision.

If implemented, these proposals would significantly speed up the process of bringing regulated products to market in the UK.

More information about longer-term reform plans will be presented to the FSA and FSS Boards in June 2024 and, if taken forward, will be subject to separate consultation.

Responses to the consultation should be submitted by 5 June 2024.

Foodborne disease policy 

At the FSA’s Board Meeting in March an overview of foodborne disease in the UK and how the FSA and others throughout the food chain were mitigating the associated risks was provided.

Overall hospitalisations for gastrointestinal disease in England are lower now than they were prior to the Covid pandemic.

However, better testing has led to more cases being attributed to specific pathogens like Salmonella or Campylobacter rather than remaining undiagnosed. 

Professor Robin May, FSA Chief Scientific Adviser, pointed out that the proportion of patients with a diagnosed Salmonella or Campylobacter infection who were being treated in hospital has increased over the same period.  

Potential reasons may include changes in testing methodology, an ageing population at more risk of getting seriously unwell, or people waiting longer before seeking clinical help and therefore having more advanced infections at the point of diagnosis. But more data is needed to understand the reasons for this apparent increase in the probability of hospitalisation. 

European increases protection of GIs


On 26 March 2024 the European Council formally adopted a regulation improving the protection of geographical indications (GIs) and other quality schemes for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products, both online and offline, while also simplifying the registration procedure for GIs.  Council adopts law to strengthen protection for geographical indications for foods and drinks - Consilium (

Among the improvements to the existing GI system are the following:

  • a strengthened role for producer groups by granting them power and responsibilities to manage their GIs, including to represent their members in intellectual property enforcement networks
  • the possibility for member states to designate producer groups as 'recognised producer groups' with exclusive rights to be exercised on behalf of all producers of the product designated by a GI
  • a reaffirmed Commission role in the examination of applications for registering products as GIs
  • greater protection of geographical indications including online, in domain names that contain geographical indications, via geo-blocking; to that end, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has been entrusted to set up a domain name information and alert system.  This will mean national authorities must take action against the illegal use of GIs on the internet, including shutting down domain names or implementing geo-blocking.
  • greater protection of a GI name designating an ingredient when it is used in the name of a related processed food; in those cases, recognised producer groups will have to be notified and the percentage of the ingredient will need to be indicated.  This will mean GIs can only be used in the name, labelling or advertising of related processed products if the GI ingredient is used in sufficient quantities to confer an essential characteristic and no comparable product is used.

The regulation will now be signed and published in the Official Journal of the EU. It will enter into force on the twentieth day following its publication.

Common User Charge Rates Raise costs for EU Imports

The Common User Charge rates and guidance, which will be brought in alongside new risk-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls from 30 April as part of the UK’s new border system, known as the  Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) has been published.

The Common User Charge will be in place for imports on low-risk products of animal origin (POAO), medium and high-risk animal products, plants and plant products entering GB through the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel Le Shuttle which are eligible for checks at a government-run Border Control Post.

The charge will apply to all eligible imports regardless of whether the import is selected for a physical check at planned government-run BCP facilities.

The Common User Charge will be in addition to any inspection fees applied by the Port Health Authority (for products of animal origin) and/or the Animal and Plant Health Agency (for plant and plant products). It will be up to commercial (private) ports to set their own charging structure and rates for traders using their services.

Common user charge rates

The following rates will be charged for each commodity line in a Common Health Entry Document (CHED):

Commodity type                                                    Imports                                                        Transits

Low-risk products of animal origin (POAO)           £10                                                                  £10

Medium-risk POAO                                                  £29                                                                 £10

High-risk POAO                                                        £29                                                                 £10

Low-risk plants and plant products              no common user charge                 no common user charge

Medium-risk plants and plant products                     £29                                     no common user charge

High-risk plants and plant products                           £29                                    no common user charge

Individual medium risk products of animal origin and plants face charges of up to £29 per type of good imported. This will be capped at £145 for mixed consignments.

Industry has warned the levy will severely impact businesses and hit food prices while reducing choice of goods for UK consumers.

Reference is made to the UK’s ‘just in time’ system that means retailers tend to place small orders from the same EU supplier at regular intervals as they need it, so lots of small loads on different vehicles instead of a single load.

It is therefore likely that suppliers/food producers/retailers may need to restructure their model of distribution , potentially buying from a distributor once the goods are already imported and reducing the frequency of orders.

FSA successfully prosecutes abattoir for serious breaches of food safety

Higginshaw Abattoir Ltd, based in Royton, Oldham, was ordered to pay £12,000 after being convicted of eleven food safety charges relating to the dispatch of over-temperature meat.

Hygiene controls mean meat must be immediately chilled and kept below 7°C, and below 3°C in the case of offal, before it can be dispatched from a slaughterhouse. On various dates between December 2018 and June 2019, sheep carcasses and offal were found on transport vehicles ready for dispatch from Higginshaw Abattoir while well above the legal temperature limits. The abattoir was therefore found to have failed in its duty to ensure that meat was properly chilled and maintained below the required limits.

A Remedial Action Notice (RAN) was served on the abattoir to ensure compliance with the legal limits. However, on four separate dates following the issue of the legal notice, the company was found still to be transporting warm meat. 

The abattoir was found guilty of 11 out of 15 charges including breaches of the RAN. In addition to fines paid for the offences, the Judge ordered Higginshaw Abattoir Ltd to pay £20,000 towards the FSA’s legal costs and the statutory victim surcharge of £170. 

SFI cap means priority of food production in farming is underlined

The UK’s farming schemes pay farmers to take actions that improve the environment alongside sustainable food production.

New measures reaffirming how the environmental land management schemes work alongside food production by limiting the amount of land farmers can take out of productive actions under the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) have been announced.

 New applicants to the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) will only be able to put 25% of their land into six SFI actions that take land out of direct production.

The six capped actions are stated to continue to play an important role in supporting farmers primary role – to produce food. The actions are:  

  1. Flower-rich grass margins  
  2. Pollen and nectar flower mix  
  3. Winter bird food on arable and horticultural land  
  4. Grassy field corners and blocks  
  5. Improved grassland field corners or blocks out of management  
  6. Winter bird food on improved grassland.  

ASA Adjudications - Advertising Standards Authority

Not Guilty Food Co Ltd t/a The Skinny Food Co  Upheld Social media (influencer or affiliate ad) 03 April 2024

An Instagram Reel on Katie Price’s account was not obviously recognisable as an ad, irresponsibly promoted a diet that fell below 800 calories a day, and made weight loss claims for the products shown that aren’t authorised on the GB NHC Register.

 Not Guilty Food Co Ltd - ASA | CAP

Where to place #ad?

The ASA acknowledged that the reel featured the hashtag “#ad” in the caption. However, the identifier was placed at the end of the caption and was not visible without engaging with the post and expanding the text. The ASA therefore concluded that the label was insufficiently prominent to obviously identify the ad as a marketing communication from the outset.

Responsibility and Explicit Instructions

The CAP Code stated that ads must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. It further stated that ads promoting diets that fell below 800 kilo-calories must do so only for short-term use and must encourage users to take medical advice before embarking on them.

While the ad did not detail the specific time limits of Ms Price’s diet, the ASA considered that consumers would understand from the caption that Ms Price followed this diet for a relatively short-term period, to counteract days where she had exceeded her calorie consumption target. However, there was no explicit instruction that the diet must only be followed on a short-term basis, and no reference, either within the video or the caption, to the need to take medical advice before embarking on this diet.

Health Claim – Weight loss

The CAP Code required that only health claims authorised on the GB NHC Register were permitted in marketing communications for foods, and that such claims must be supported by documentary evidence to show that the foods met the conditions of use associated with the relevant authorised claim. The CAP Code defined health claims as those that stated, suggested or implied a relationship between a food, drink or ingredient and health.

Claims that a food product could cause weight loss, or help to maintain weight after weight loss, were health claims for the purposes of the Code. The ASA considered specific claims, in addition to the overall impression of the ad, implied that the products shown could contribute to weight loss.

The claim “Skinny Food(s)”, in the context of the ad, was therefore also a health claim for the purposes of the CAP Code. The products in the range would therefore need to contain a substance or substances that would produce the physiological effect of weight loss or maintenance, for which there was an authorised health claim relating to weight loss or maintenance, and for which the product met the relevant conditions of use.

Eco Claim

Easigrass (Distribution) Ltd Upheld Website (own site), Social media (own site) 27 March 2024

A Facebook post and website for artificial grass made misleading claims about recyclability, and misleadingly implied the product was eco friendly.  Easigrass (Distribution) Ltd - ASA | CAP

Recylability - The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim that Kensington Eco-Grass was “fully recyclable” to mean that the entire product was easily recyclable once it had reached the end of its life cycle. We considered that consumers would expect that recycling process to be widely available and easily accessible to UK consumers.

The ASA understood that the product could only be fully recycled at specialist recycling centres, and at the time the ad was seen, there were only three such locations in mainland Europe, and only one location in the UK. The ASA considered that access to recycling facilities for their product were not readily available to consumers and the ad was misleading.

Eco – Absolute claim  The CAP Code required that the basis of environmental claims must be clear and that unqualified claims could mislead if they omit significant information. It required that absolute claims must be supported by a high level of substantiation. It also said that claims must be based on the full life cycle of the advertised product, unless the ad stated otherwise.

The ASA considered that the inclusion of “Eco” within the name of the product, as seen in both ads, implied that the artificial grass was “eco-friendly”. The claims “ticks all the environmental boxes” and “offers a range of environmental benefits” were used on a webpage related to the use of artificial grass offcuts. We considered that these would be interpreted by consumers to mean that the use of artificial grass would positively impact the environment in several ways, and reinforced the understanding that the product was “eco-friendly”.

The ads did not contain any qualifications or further information about the basis of those claims. The ASA considered the direct and implied claims that the product was “eco-friendly” would be understood to mean that the advertised product was not harmful to the environment at any point during its full life cycle. The ASA therefore expected to see a high level of substantiation demonstrating that absolute claim.  This was not provided and the ads found to be misleading.

Gender Stereotyping

The following 2 adjudications show a contradictory interpretation by the ASA but this underlines the level of consideration that should go into ads that relate to gender stereotypical roles and the use of 'tongue in cheek' humour.  Additional text is provided from the ASA rulings to show their reasoning in each case.

John Mills Ltd t/a JML Direct  Upheld  Television  27 March 2024

A TV ad for a cleaning tool presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm.  John Mills Ltd - ASA | CAP

Ad description

A three-minute TV ad for JML’s Hurricane Spin Scrubber, seen on 7 January 2024, depicted a number of women using the cleaning tool in bathrooms, kitchens and other home environments. The ad included a male and female host. The male host described the product and demonstrated how it worked.  Four of the women described their experiences with the tool.  A male voice-over concluded, “To get your hands on the Hurricane Spin Scrubber and a sparkling clean home call now, or visit”

The complainant, who believed the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by depicting only women in a role that was stereotypically female, and implying that only women cleaned or were interested in cleaning products, challenged whether it breached the Code.


John Mills Ltd t/a JML stated that they had updated their advertising following an ASA ruling in 2021 regarding a TV ad for the JML Hurricane Spin Scrubber which the ASA had concluded had presented gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm. They believed that the new ad, which featured a male presenter who was shown demonstrating and using the product, provided more of a gender balance.

Clearcast stated that the new ad was in line with the CAP and BCAP “Advertising Guidance on depicting gender stereotypes likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence”. There was no implication that men could not or would not do cleaning in a house.


The BCAP Code stated that ads must not include gender stereotypes that were likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence. Joint CAP and BCAP guidance stated that gender-stereotypical characteristics included attributes or behaviours usually associated with a specific gender. The guidance stated that ads may feature people undertaking gender-stereotypical roles, such as showing women cleaning, but they should take care to avoid suggesting that stereotypical roles or characteristics were: always uniquely associated with one gender; the only options available to one gender; or never carried out or displayed by another gender.

The ASA considered that, with the exception of the male host, the ad only featured people who could be readily identified as women.

The ASA considered that the juxtaposition of the male host in an authoritative position explaining and demonstrating how the product could be used alongside several women using and talking about their personal experiences of using the product to clean their home, reinforced the harmful gender stereotype that cleaning the home was the responsibility of women, and that men did not share that responsibility.

Furthermore, the male host was accompanied by a female host who did not demonstrate or describe the features of the product herself, but instead observed and assisted him. In the context of the ad, the ASA considered that this reinforced the harmful gender stereotype that it was a woman’s role to assist men, which contributed to the wider impression that it was their role to keep the home clean rather than a man’s.


DUSK (Retail) Ltd  Not upheld  Television  20 March 2024

A TV ad was conversely held by the ASA not likely to cause serious or widespread offence over its portrayal of men.

A TV ad for furniture retailer DUSK, seen in October and November 2023, featured an older woman sitting in a quirkily decorated room, sipping tea while speaking to the camera. She said, “Of course I thought about going down the traditional route, you know, visiting a big old showroom, flicking through endless swatches and then ordering a sofa for well over a grand. But instead, I decided to buy direct from and have money left over to pay Carlo!” A topless man, with his head out of the frame, walked into the room and poured tea into the woman’s cup. The woman then looked at the camera and said, “Dusk sayin’.”

Forty complainants, who believed that the ad objectified men, challenged whether the ad was harmful and offensive.

DUSK (Retail) Ltd t/a DUSK responded that the ad portrayed a glamorous and aspirational lifestyle. It was light-hearted and tongue in cheek, and they believed it was unlikely to cause serious offence. There was no serious nudity, and Carlo was not sexually explicit or suggestive. He was admired and respected by the main character, Kitty. It was clear that he was viewed as someone who performed a paid-for job she appreciated, rather than an object, as she referred to him by his name. The focus of the ad was on Kitty and the DUSK product throughout, and it did not shift to focus onto Carlo. Further focus was drawn to the product and price by a roundel popping on screen while Carlo was also on screen.

The ad avoided gender stereotypical roles and ensured that neither character was belittled or made fun of. They considered that seeing a man carry out his job in a role that would historically and stereotypically be viewed as associated with women, deconstructed gender stereotypes and confirmed that anyone could undertake such roles.

Clearcast said that the ad was light-hearted, good humour. For almost the entire duration of the ad viewers only saw Kitty. Her visually eclectic style, and her shopping at DUSK was the ad’s focus, with Carlo briefly appearing at the very end. When Carlo did enter the screen, he was introduced by name, and was not merely referred to as staff, service or any other potentially dismissive term. His attire, while bare-chested, was smart trousers and shoes, which established that the relationship with Kitty was professional and amicable. His demeanour was professional during his limited time on screen, simply holding out a tray to Kitty. There was no physical interaction between the two, including no salacious or sexual behaviours. His role as a novelty butler was not demeaned, sexualised or exploited in any way. They endorsed DUSK’s comments that the ad deconstructed gender stereotypes and added that they believed it was no less valid than visually showing a legitimate professional service of a younger woman waiting on a gentleman. For those reasons, they did not believe that the overall nature of the ad had breached the Code with regards to widespread or serious harm and offence.

The ASA did not uphold the complaints.

The ASA considered that because he was shirtless, and his face was not in frame, viewers’ focus would be drawn to his body. However, he appeared only briefly at the end of the ad, and in a manner that was not sexually suggestive in tone.

We considered, instead, that the ad depicted an exaggerated scenario, and viewers were likely to recognise the ad’s surreal and comical tone. Because of that, we considered that Carlo’s portrayal did not objectify the character. Whilst we acknowledged that some viewers might find it distasteful, we concluded that the ad was not irresponsible or likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

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