ASA ruling is important to British farming

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

AHDB’s Chief Communications and Market Development Officer Christine Watts, responds to the ASA ruling.

We should all be proud of the incredible work farming does to produce quality food and its role in maintaining our wonderful national landscapes. The sector and its allied industries support economic growth and are responsible for thousands of jobs in rural communities.

From our tracking work, AHDB knows many consumers are continuing to re-evaluate their food choices and despite lockdown easing, health and sustainability remain front of mind for the consumer for the near future.

In January this year, AHDB launched a £1.5 million campaign to remind consumers of the important role meat and dairy plays in a balanced diet, and the sustainability credentials of farming in this country when compared to global counterparts.  This successful We Eat Balanced advertising campaign ran across TV, print and social media during January and February and reached up to 18.5 million people – a fantastic achievement, resulting in positive responses from industry and members of the public and a shortlisting for the Food and Drink Federation’s Campaign of the Year award.

As is often the case with such a high-profile campaign, it unfortunately attracted some negative attention – with complaints sent to the Advertising Standards Authority.  These complaints were not upheld, which makes it an important ruling for British farming, enabling us to continue to communicate important information about the role red meat and dairy can play in the diet.

We work hard to ensure our marketing campaigns are robust and underpinned by evidence.  We Eat Balanced emerged from consumer research to uncover which messages would get the most traction with our target audience.  This resulted in our January campaign and its TV advert – which was no small feat as this had to be created from our homes during lockdown. We actively worked with industry, retailers and our levy-payers to deliver the messages across multiple platforms - especially social media, which is where consumers increasingly turn to for information - and the end result was a positive attitudinal shift.

As we look ahead, we need to build on We Eat Balanced and the success of our smaller social media campaigns this year on wholegrains and potatoes. AHDB will continue to tap into consumer trends around diet, health and environmental sustainability – highlighting the role that both arable and livestock farming in the UK is playing on its journey towards Net Zero by 2040. 

We are looking forward to launching this next wave of our campaign with backing from our levy payers, many of whom are joining AHDB in supporting the nationwide Love Lamb Week in early September.

Landmark ruling for farming as AHDB's 'We Eat Balanced' campaign not upheld by ASA.