Organic Articles: Badvertising?

The Organic Consultancy


Simon Wright
The Organic Consultancy

This article originally appeared in the Augsut 2003 edition of Organic Business.

I am delighted to see key organic brands investing money on advertising their products to consumers. Green & Black’s, Seeds Of Change, and most recently Go Organic have all recently run poster and magazine campaigns exhorting consumers to buy their products. But is it just me or is the advertising itself a bit odd ?

First out of the blocks were Green & Blacks with a two-pronged attack on the London underground. Inside the trains went cards explaining just why Green & Black’s chocolate is so delicious (real vanilla, no vegetable fat) whilst large moody posters at stations carried the strapline “Ah, That’s What Chocolate’s Supposed To Taste Like.” I thought this was a clever approach but an advertising professional I spoke to recently described it as ‘highly patronising’. Next up was Seeds Of Change and their claim that lions prefer eating humans who have followed an organic diet, which left me nonplussed. Now we have the Go Organic “Go Orgasmic” campaign which shows key ingredients such as limes, chillies and tomatoes being squeezed and the resultant juice running down someone’s hand. I can’t find anyone who likes this ad, and several consumers have told me it would put them off buying the products.

Green & Black’s, Seeds of Change and Go Organic are all very professional companies who produce excellent products. I am sure that all three advertising campaigns were carefully designed and tested by the agencies involved. So why don’t they hit the spot ? Maybe we are all having to try too hard. The current position adopted by the ASA means that companies are very restricted to what they can say about their organic ranges in advertising, with claims of superior nutrition being banned and claims of superior quality being problematic. Now that the FSA has begin to thaw slightly on its organic position we can only hope that the ASA will follow suit and allow companies to make more straightforward claims about their organic products. At the recent FDF Organic Seminar Peter Melchett explained that this was a priority for the Soil Association, and that the Soil Association was engaged in a lengthy process of substantiating new organic claims with the ASA. The entire organic industry will benefit if Peter can and his team can pull this one off. Maybe then organic brands will be allowed to talk to consumers about their products simply and effectively.