Burger King 'plant based' Whopper ads banned by advertising watchdog

15 April 2020, 06:43

The fast-food chain was rapped by the watchdog
The fast-food chain was rapped by the watchdog. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Burger King has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for calling its Rebel Whopper "100% plant based" as it is cooked on the same grill as meat products.

The fast-food chain has been banned from using an advert for the burger by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) who also found Burger King had also failed to make it immediately clear its new product was dressed with an egg-based mayonnaise.

The watchdog received complaints from the public which criticised the claims "100% Whopper. No Beef" and "plant-based burger" in Burger King's marketing.

In a ruling the ASA said: "Because the overall impression of the ads was that the burger was suitable for vegans and vegetarians when in fact it was not, we concluded that the ads were misleading."

The body also found the product's launch had been timed to coincide with the "Veganuary" challenge - making consumers believe it was fully vegan.

The decision was based on three adverts across Twitter and Facebook.

A tweet from the @BurgerKingUK account said: "You asked and we listened. Introducing the Rebel Whopper, our first plant-based burger!"

The tweet was accompanied by an image of the burger stating "100% Whopper. No beef".

An almost identical advert appeared on Facebook with the additional claim "Powered by the vegetarian butcher" and in small print at the foot "*Product is cooked alongside meat products".

A second Facebook ad stated the Rebel Whopper "Tastes of being woke", had below it the claim "100% whopper. No Beef", and included the Burger King logo and The Vegetarian Butcher logo

In small print the ad had "T&C's apply".

BKUK Group Ltd, the chain's parent company, said the small print indicated the burger may not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians, and that this had been communicated to journalists, on social media posts and in dialogue with customers.

It said the product itself consisted of a 100% plant-based patty supplied by the Vegetarian Butcher and that a customer who did not want mayonnaise could exclude it from their order.

The ASA found the qualification that the burger was "cooked alongside meat products" was not sufficiently prominent to counter the impression that the burger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

It added the small print did not refer to the presence of egg mayonnaise and was missing from one Facebook advert completely.

It ruled the advert must not appear in its current form again.