The ruling referred to three advertisements across the brand’s Twitter and Facebook feeds which promoted its Rebel Whopper, a plant-based burger that was pictured in all ads and accompanied by the phrase, “100% WHOPPER. NO BEEF”.
Following their publication, however, ten complainants approached the ASA arguing the Rebel Whopper was not suitable for vegans, vegetarians and those with egg allergies because it was cooked alongside meat products and used egg-based mayonnaise.
The complainants argued that the claims “100% Whopper No Beef” and “plant-based burger” in all three ads were therefore misleading.
Burger King responded by stating that the small print at the bottom of the ads stated the Rebel Whopper may not be suitable for vegans or vegetarians as it was cooked alongside other meat products.
It added that the information was “clearly communicated” to journalists and “clearly stated on all social media posts and subsequent customer dialogue”.
Burger King also explained that the product itself consisted of a 100% plant-based patty and had no beef, adding that a customer who did not want mayonnaise could have excluded that from their order.
Nonetheless, the ASA considered that consumers would understand the claims “100% WHOPPER. NO BEEF” and “plant-based burger” to mean that the burger did not contain any beef or animal products, despite being cooked on the same grill as meat products.
The complete burger also contained egg-based mayonnaise, and for these reasons the burger as-sold was “not suitable for vegans or vegetarians”.
ASA further argued that the presence of the “Vegetarian Butcher” logo, 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”.
It concluded that the advertisements were therefore “not sufficiently prominent to override the overall impression that the burger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans” and have ultimately been dubbed as misleading.