Hershey told to get real on Brookside fruit claims after Mars complaint

By Oliver Nieburg

- Last updated on GMT

Hershey agrees to modify packaging after Mars reports it to ad watchdog
Hershey agrees to modify packaging after Mars reports it to ad watchdog

Related tags Advertising Hershey

The National Advertising Division has recommended that Hershey modify its packaging and advertising for Brookside candies so consumers know the product is made with fruit flavors and not real fruit.

The recommendation followed a challenge from competitor Mars. Hershey said that it disagreed with the findings but would comply with The National Advertising Division’s (NAD) proposals.

Wrapper layout changes

NAD said it was concerned by the current layout and font sizes on Brookside packages.

Hershey’s latest Brookside packaging presents the name of a single fruit on its own line and in a font much larger than the term ‘flavors’, which appears on a line below accompanied by another fruit name.

“NAD recommended that the advertiser further modify its packaging to present the product name in a manner that makes it clear that all of the identified fruits are in fact “flavors” and not actual pieces of fruit in the product,”​ said the body in a statement.

Hershey said that while it “disagrees with NAD’s assessment of the layout of the product name, Hershey supports industry self-regulation and will take NAD’s recommendation into account”.

Hershey & Brookside

Hershey acquired Brookside Foods​, a British Columbia-based company specializing in chocolate-covered fruit juice pieces, in December 2011. Analysts estimate the brand is worth around $200m at retail and Hershey predicts that it could grow to a $500m brand in future.

Earlier packaging revamp

Hershey’s original Brookside packs featured images of real fruits and included the statement ‘Natural Source of Flavanol Antioxidants’.

The company later revised the packaging, omitting mention of flavanols and including the term ‘flavor’ in product names – for example ‘Dark Chocolate Goji with Raspberry Flavor’ rather than ‘Dark Chocolate Goji with Raspberry’.

NAD was satisfied with this action and said that the adding the term ‘flavor’ ensured consumer wouldn't mistake the product as containing real fruit.

TV ad with real fruits

However, Hershey ran a television ad in 2013 that the NAD did call out. It showed chefs chopping chocolate and preparing real berries and pomegranates.

A voiceover described the products as “[r]ich dark chocolate meets sweet soft centers flavored with exotic fruit juices … .”​ while text read: “Flavored with a blend of juice concentrates and fruit flavors.”

NAD noted in its decision that the visual cues presented in the advertisement were particularly striking, and served to ‘draw viewers’ attention away from the voiceover’s important message that the products are only ‘flavored’ with fruit juices, and  … convey an inaccurate message that the products contain actual fruit,” ​said the NAD.

It recommended that the Hershey pull the commercial.

Hershey: Ad had run its course anyway

Hershey disagreed with NAD’s conclusion, but said:  “In any event, the particular TV execution challenged by Mars ran its course in 2013. Hershey will take NAD’s concerns into account with respect to any new version of this execution.”

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

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