A TV ad for Richmond ham which features a naked man wearing only a cap and eating a ham sandwich, was banned by the ASA at the end of last month, but not for the reasons you might think. The man sang a song declaring his love for Richmond ham which proclaimed that Richmond ham is “Britain’s only ham made with 100% natural ingredients.” The ad was cleared for broadcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for children. The advert received 371 complaints, five issues were investigated by the ASA and one was upheld. the ASA investigated whether: (i) the nudity in the ad was offensive; (ii) the ad was inappropriate for broadcast at times when children were likely to be watching; (iii) the claim “Britain’s only ham made with 100% natural ingredients” was misleading and could be substantiated; (iv) it was misleading to describe the product as “Britain’s only ham…”, because the company was Irish and the product was made in Ireland; and (v) the claims “made with 100% natural ingredients” and “as nature intended” were misleading and could be substantiated.

Surprisingly, it was issue number (iv) that turned out to be the reason for the ASA clamping down on Richmond ham. In relation to the nudity, which drew the most public complaints, the ASA stated that it was “not sexual in tone and we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence”. Regarding the claim that the ham was British, the ASA upheld the complaint, stating that the ham was likely to be interpreted by consumers watching the ad as a product of British origin, when this was not the case. Therefore, the claim was held to be misleading and the advert was deemed to breach BCAP Code rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising).