The Commerce Commission has warned Hell Pizza that its advertising of the “Burger Pizza” was, in the Commission’s view, likely to have breached the Fair Trading Act 1986.
The Commission considers that the overall impression conveyed to consumers by Hell Pizza’s initial advertising was that the product comprised meat, when in fact the patty was made from plant-based protein.
“In the Commission’s view by describing the product as a “burger pizza” which was “loaded with chunks of medium-rare burger patty”, Hell has likely made false or misleading representations about the kind and/or composition of goods offered for sale,” said Stuart Wallace, the Commission’s Head of Consumer.
The Commission received a number of complaints about the Hell Pizza promotion after it began on 21 June. On 25 June the advertising was amended to “medium-rare Beyond MeatTM burger patty.” Several complainants said they believed the Burger Pizza included meat.
“A burger traditionally includes a patty of minced beef, though it can be made of other ingredients. Here the patty was referred to as “medium-rare” which is a term associated with meat, usually beef, indicating how thoroughly cooked it is. There was no reference to the patty being vegetarian or plant-based,” said Mr Wallace.
“All businesses should note that what they don’t say can be as important as what they do say, in making representations that may breach the Fair Trading Act. The overall impression created matters,” he said.
After weighing Hell Pizza’s conduct against our Enforcement Criteria, the Commission has decided that a warning is the appropriate response.
“We note that the conduct was short in duration and that Hell has ceased to offer the Burger Pizza. Hell told the Commission it does not intend to engage in this sort of promotion again and will seek legal advice before launching future campaigns,” said Mr Wallace.
A warning explains the Commerce Commission’s opinion that the conduct at issue is likely to have breached the law. Only the Courts can decide whether a breach of the law has in fact occurred.
A warning letter is to inform the recipient of the Commission’s view that there has been a likely breach of the law, to suggest a change in the recipient’s behaviour, and to encourage future compliance with the law.
If you can’t back it up, don’t say it
The Commission has produced this video and guidance to assist traders to comply with the law when making representations about their products.