UK Commission Bans Commercial Joking About Avocados As “Disparaging Good Dietary Practice”

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and hereand here and here  and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. Of course, once you start to criminalize and regulate speech, the appetite for more speech controls becomes increasingly insatiable and ultimately absurd.  The latest example in the United Kingdom is a ban ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)  to prevent Costa Coffee from airing a humorous commercial poking fun at avocados.

The ad said the following:

“Oh, there’s a great deal on ripen at home avocados. Sure, they’ll be hard as rock for the first 18 days, three hours and 20 minutes, then they’ll be ready to eat, for about 10 minutes, then they’ll go off. For a better deal, head to Costa Coffee and grab a delicious, piping hot bacon roll or egg muffin for just £2 ($2.60) when you buy any medio or massimo hot drink or flat white before 11 a.m.”

Two humorless viewers filed complaints that accused the company of “discouraging the selection of fresh fruit.” Such a complaint should receive a response of “ok, so what?”  But this is the United Kingdom and the ad was claimed to be a breach ASA’s rule banning advertisers from “disparag[ing] good dietary practice.”  The ASA did not missed a beat (or show any self-awareness of the absurdity of its position) in proclaiming “We considered that, although the ad was light-hearted, it nevertheless suggested avocados were a poor breakfast choice, and that a bacon roll or egg muffin would be a better alternative, and in doing so discouraged the selection of avocados.”

The key to this ridiculous decision is that the company referred to a “better deal” to describe the breakfast sandwiches. That was deemed as discouraging “good dietary practice.”

For those who embrace speech crimes and regulations, this is where such erosion of free speech takes you. Officials empowered with this authority tend to bar what they deem to be bad speech–like joking about avocados.

19 thoughts on “UK Commission Bans Commercial Joking About Avocados As “Disparaging Good Dietary Practice””

  1. Noted philosopher and chanteur, Kermit the Frog, said it best years ago……..and his words are just as relevant today, especially in light of the avocado’s struggle:

  2. Noted philosopher and chanteur, Kermit the Frog, said it best years ago…..and his words are just as relevant today, especially in light of the avocado’s struggle:

  3. Do we really want to empower supercilious bureaucrats to treat us like children, scolding, fining, or even improsoning is for speech? The UK must think its citizens complete morons to suppose this commercial would put them off fruit. Clearly they’ve never bought avocados before. They are succulent and delicious for approximately an hour, usually one where you are out.

    1. Granted, complete morons are rare, but I do believe they work at the ASA. Must have been a quota scheme.

  4. Yeah they also have that law not allowing the advertising of pharmaceuticals through the media. They leave that up to the doctors. In the US we are free to pay 20% more to cover the advertising budget so that idiots can watch cartoons where people smile after they pop this or that ‘ia’ or ‘axe’. Yup, they’re the ones with the problems. The US ranks well below Great Britain in quality of health care, well above in obesity, etc. Americans pay for the freedom of health care parasites to rake in the bucks through the freedom of speech. However, it was an American who qualified individual freedoms as being paramount, as long as they don’t cause harm to the people. In every instance, in any country, condition, whether or not they are based on freedoms or restrictions, things go to extremes sometimes. It is always better to view the foibles of another country when yours has just run roughshod over the freedom of being run by oligarchs and buffoons. The US is now in for several decades of the curtailment of the freedom to evolve socially.

    1. Isaac they market directly to doctors.

      We subsidize Canada and the UK. They restrict what drugs can go for and we take up the slack, funding R&D of new medicines. Why don’t you pay your fair share?

      1. Not so, Karen

        The difference is basically that in the US, and only in the US the health care system is entirely based on the consumer product formula of charging, ‘what the market will bear’, or as much as one can get. There are hundreds of thousands of unnecessary salaries to pay for the insurance industry with over 1,200 companies, instead of say 50 with one for each state as in Canada where each of the 10 provinces administers the health care system of the province. On top of that, the pharmaceutical industry budgets 20% +/- for advertising compared to 16% +/- for R&D. Add to this that the pharmaceutical industry makes our elected representatives protect their monopolies by not permitting negotiating lower prices through Medicaid and Medicare but markets at a profit to other countries at bulk prices. Add in the financial obligations to shareholders, thousands of CEO salaries, lear jets, etc. and you get an administrative cost that is 5 to 7 times per capita what it is in the dozens of countries that rank higher in quality of health care. Add to this that a GP makes 250K a year in most countries but 350K+ in the US. Add to this that for the same education costs are triple + in the US for a medical degree. Add to this the consumer oriented approach of hospitals and clinics that use their billions of dollars of equipment 20 % to 30 % of the time as opposed to 70 % to 80 % of the time as in the other more equitable countries. The main difference is that in the US health care is a consumer commodity like a car. Some can afford a Mercedes but most take the bus. The cost per capita for health care averaged throughout the provinces of Canada is a third of what it is in the US. Canada ranks around 12th to 14th in the world. The US ranks around 30th. The health care industries in every country except the US perform as a service where those involved make good salaries. Nurses and health care workers are far better off in other countries. There are no doctors who go without in other countries. I have lived in Canada, France, Colombia, and the US and the difference is very little when it comes to lifestyles of the average doctor. Only in the US does private enterprise make billions off of the misery of the people. Creating a single payer insurance system would reduce costs by 20%. Doing away with advertising would reduce costs of pharmaceuticals by 20%. It is the old question of greed over need.

        1. Isaac:

          Not so. Pharmaceutical companies R&D bear fruit by dint of years of failures. Investigational New Drugs fail time after time. And then when they finally get a good, solid candidate, they have to go through study after study with the FDA, during which many fail. They finally get a drug which gets passed by the FDA. It’s unlikely to be a blockbuster. It’s got the scant years of its patent to pay for all of the losses and failures, the cost of developing the one successful drug, the tens of millions of dollars to put it through FDA trials, and enough profit to keep them running for a while when they start work on the next drug. That’s all before the generic can swoop in, which only needs to charge for the cost of manufacture plus profit margin.

          Meanwhile, yahoos are out there scandalized that the drug manufacturers charge more than the cost of the raw materials, not even taking into account the manufacturing process itself, let alone the long journey to fruition.

          So, no, Isaac, you guys with your price controls depend on the rest of us to subsidize you, and keep R&D running, which you benefit from.

          It’s not really a free market economy with pharmaceuticals.

  5. Free Speech. First Amendment. American Revolution. Go back in time. Shoot the Redcoats. Arm the bears.

  6. When people question why we have a Constitution and Bill of Rights, they should consider idiotic rulings like this and the repression of free speech even in societies with democratic governments. Traditions and Common Law are important, but insufficient in the absence of hard limits like those established in the Bill of Rights. America’s Founders were flawed, but wiser than any other group in their generation. We continue to benefit from their wisdom.

  7. Just a tip of curtain agriculture. The entire Sonora Desert Area (east side of the Sea of Cortez is on water curtailment and sharing with agriculture. Number one user of water n the region Aguacate aka Avacadoes. The only operation I know of down by Obregon at the south end that has no problem installed full green house with wells and desalination They are considering doing bottled water on the side.!!!

    That’s the news from the land of cactus

  8. There’s a noticeable up tick of British and Scot’s moving to Florida I hope they’re not bringing this nonsense to the U.S..

    1. No, what happened is that what Glenn Reynolds has called ‘the administrative class’ has been taken over by people with the mentality we associate in this country with elementary school administrators (and many teachers as well). Petty clucking reproving control freaks. Such people don’t belong in supervisory positions of any kind.

      1. The problem is not the mentality of teachers and administrator, but of heirs. In many cases intelligence skips a generation or two. Heirs gain power through inherited wealth and name recognition, not merit. Today meritless heirs control far too many government positions.

        1. You mean like our present buffoon of a President, meritless heir to hundreds of millions, privilege, connections, etc. If ever there was a meritless heir it is Trump.

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