Burger King was banned from showing advertisements suggesting that his Rebel Whopper, which is cooked with meat and contains eggs, is vegan.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has said the chain’s claim that the burger is “100% Whopper, no beef” could be taken to mean that it does not contain animal products.
Burger King said it had been “clear and transparent” in its marketing.
The Vegan Society has declared this to be a “missed opportunity”.
“We indicated from the start that the Rebel Whopper is intended for a Flexitarian audience,” the fast food chain said in a statement.
But the ASA found that Burger King’s social media posts on the Rebel Whopper gave the impression that it could be eaten by vegans and vegetarians.
The messages included a logo saying “vegetarian butcher”.
“The green color scheme and the timing of the ad and product release to coincide with” Veganuary “helped to make the product appear suitable for vegans and vegetarians,” said ASA.
Some of the advertisements included small print indicating “cooked with meat products”.
But the ASA said, “We felt it was not visible enough to outweigh the general impression that the hamburger was suitable for vegetarians and vegans.”
When the hamburger was launched, the fast-food chain said it was aimed at those who want to cut down on meat.
But a spokesperson for the Vegan Society called the launch a “missed opportunity.”
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Burger King told ASA that it had been “clearly communicated” on social media and reporters that the hamburger may not be suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
He also said that he did not include the “vegetarian butcher” logo in television commercials because it was considered “potentially misleading”.
“Burger King explained that the product itself was a 100% vegetable patty provided by the vegetarian butcher and had no beef,” said ASA.
“They added that a customer who did not want mayonnaise could have excluded this from their order. “