Nando’s ad banned: Watchdog says there’s no such thing as a free lunch


The Advertising Standards Board has banned an advertisement for chicken chain Nando’s this month after viewers complained the Facebook ad falsely offered a free lunch.

The advertisement in question promised customers a free of charge meal, stating, “Lunch on us Monday 5th-Friday 9th Feb”. However, a complaint that was later lodged with the ad watchdog suggested diners were refused a free meal, despite arriving within the advertised times.

One complainant stated that they were informed “there was a limit of the first 250 people”, however this information wasn’t included in the advertisement, and therefore they felt the ad was “misleading and disappointing”.

In a response to the complaints, Nando’s defended its advertising, stating “the advertisement consisted of two parts — the main image visually featured food items that could be claimed under the offer and provided a link to full terms and conditions for the offer”. The chicken chain said the material therefore did not breach provision 2.1 of the Food and Beverage Code, and did not breach any further advertising codes of ethics.

Nando’s also suggested the matter is “somewhat moot” due to the fact that the advertisement had already stopped appearing and would not be shown again.

However, the Ad Standards Board ultimately found “it was unreasonable to expect people viewing a Facebook post to click through to the website to read the full terms and conditions”, and furthermore that “it would be reasonable to expect that an important limitation to the offer would be a clear part of the advertisement”.

With these aspects of the case considered, the board found the advertisement breached provision 2.1 of the Food and Beverage Code and upheld the complaint.

Responding to the ruling, Nando’s said it did not necessarily agree with the board’s finding but said it respects the decision made by the the regulatory body.

Speaking to SmartCompany, director of InsideOut PR Nicole Reaney said the onus is on advertisers to remain on the ‘safe side’ and include terms and conditions on their original advertisements.

“With a myriad of brand chatter comes a temptation for brands to generate promotional content that baits consumers into viewing and taking action,” Reaney says.

“Brands need to take a ‘responsible person’ view in assessing claims made in its marketing communication … in this instance a statement like, “Be one of 250 consumers”, and an obvious reference to terms and conditions could have prevented consumer disappointment and regulator involvement,” she says.

This isn’t the first time that Nando’s has face questions from the advertising watchdog, after a campaign using the acronym ‘WTF’ drew a number of complaints in September of last year. On that occasion, the Ad Standard Board sided with Nando’s and dismissed the complaints.

SmartCompany contacted Nando’s but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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