Supermarket chain Coles are watching their reputation ‘go down’ after they were once again found guilty of misleading and deceiving customers about how certain products were made. Today, the Advertising Standards Board (the ASB) noted that Coles had breached their obligations as a company.
The ASB slammed Coles for breaching the food code, which mandates that advertising must be fair and accurate. The television spot, which drew the ire of the regulatory authority, features celebrity chef and Coles shill Curtis Stone. In the ad, Mr. Stone claims that Coles have imported Tasmanian pink lady apples, closing out the advert with the statement that you can “…feed your family better, fresher, with spring fruit and veg from Coles”.
Stupidly, the ad was played in Tasmania.
In no time at all, a Tasmanian viewer put the pieces together. In a letter to the ASB, he laid out the explicitly silly nature of the company’s claims: This is wrong and not possible, I live in Tassie and my apple tree is dormant. These apples would have been in storage for months, they are not fresh. This ad is misleading and my wife would like a personal apology from Curtis (or cash).”
After the pot had been stirred, Coles attempted to shrug off criticism by insisting that it had not misled the public. The apples were picked in April, they admitted, but “cold technology” had guaranteed their freshness. In a statement to the board, the supermarket’s administration peddled the claim once again: “Cold storage facilities place apples in a controlled low temperature and reduced oxygen (no nitrogen is added) environment to preserve their freshness … Coles considers apples can remain fresh, even if placed in cold storage. ‘Freshness’ is determined with regard to the quality of the produce, not whether it has been stored or not.”
But the ABS disagreed. In their findings, the board noted that the use of the word “fresh” was not, in and of itself, misleading. However, the board also found that the inclusion of the word “spring” added new context to the previous claims. In essence, the two terms combined to imply that the Apple’s were ‘freshly picked in spring’, a claim which was patently untrue. Instead of copping to the original accusations, Coles’ disregard for the consumer’s right to know has resulted in a rather public shaming.
“The board considered that the likely interpretation of the advertisement by the average consumer would be that the Tasmanian apples being promoted as fresh this spring would have been freshly picked in recent weeks and not over three months ago,” read the ABS’s official ruling.
Since then, the ubiquitous company has pledged not to run those particular advertisements on the air. But after the ‘Irish bread’ scandal and other obvious attempts to manipulate interest, it seems Coles’ credibility is ‘going down’ too.
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