The BVA has voiced disappointment that supermarket chain Morrisons has not been disciplined on the back of a contentious Christmas advert.

The BVA has voiced disappointment that supermarket chain Morrisons has not been disciplined on the back of a contentious Christmas advert.

Morrisons' ad received more than 200 complaintsThe supermarket received 234 complaints, many from vets and VNs, after showing its Christmas 2012 TV advert, which featured a dog being fed potentially toxic raisin-filled Christmas pudding by a child.

However, on February 13, 2013, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced it would not be pressing complaints against the retailer.

BVA president Peter Jones said: “This ruling is disappointing, but the ASA has set out its reasons for the decision and we accept those reasons.

“Thankfully, the advert only had a short shelf life and we hope Morrisons is now very unlikely to make the same mistakes again. Overall, we hope the whole incident has served to educate Morrisons and the general public about the dangers of grapes and raisins to dogs.”

A poll by Vetsonline in December 2012 found that 88.7% of vets and industry viewed the advert as “irresponsible advertising”, compared to 11.3% who viewed it as “harmless promotion”.  

Defending its advert to the ASA, Morrisons and the production company behind the advert argued the clip showed the dog rejecting the pudding, and the retailer’s veterinary advisor had said a dog would, in reality, have to consume “one of their largest Christmas puddings with the highest concentration of fruit in order for toxicity to be a risk”.

The ASA ruling stated: “The ASA agreed the ad depicted the circumstance of a dog being fed Christmas pudding in an unfavourable light: the boy passed the pudding to the dog in a surreptitious manner, and the dog then did not eat the slice of Christmas pudding.

“The voiceover also emphasised that ‘not everyone loves traditional Christmas pud’. We considered it was clear that, in feeding the dog, the boy was doing something he was not supposed to, and it was also clear the dog had rejected the pudding. We considered it unlikely that viewers, including children, would interpret it to mean that dogs liked Christmas pudding or that it was appropriate to feed Christmas pudding to dogs.”

It concluded: “While we noted the complainants’ concerns that dog owners might not be aware of the possible toxicity of grapes and raisins, and other foods, to dogs, we considered that dog owners would be aware they should not feed their dogs foods that did not form part of a standard canine diet, and that it was the responsibility of parents to educate their children they should not feed unsuitable food to dogs.”

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