When a Scottish restaurant promoted deep-fried Mars bars, the chocolate maker took issue. The company sent a letter requesting that Carron Fish Bar post a disclaimer about the fried chocolate on its menu: "not authorised or endorsed by Mars Incorporated."
A Mars spokesperson explained the company's position:
"We are really flattered that customers of Carron Fish Bar like our product so much that it has now become a flagship product for the store.
"No application for a protected geographical indication has been filed to date.
"Should an application be filed, unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to support it as deep-frying one of our products would go against our commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles."
"Healthy, active lifestyles"? Indeed, in a list of "Marketing Commitments" posted on its website, the company boasts these principles:
- We believe in healthy eating and pride ourselves on the high quality of our products. Based on sound scientific knowledge, we know that they can form part of a healthy and enjoyable diet for consumers of all ages.
- Our communications will not undermine the pursuit of a healthy, balanced diet and active lifestyle.
- Our communications will not encourage or condone excessive consumption of any food or drink.
- Our communications will not promote compulsive snacking.
- We will not associate our products with people who are excessively underweight or overweight.
- We will not use a celebrity in a way that might mislead consumers about the benefits of our brands.
- We endorse initiatives to encourage active lifestyles including the sponsoring of sports events.
- We will direct our marketing communications in all media to adults who make household purchasing decisions (gatekeepers) and young people 12 and over, both in terms of ad content and media purchasing.
- We will continue to offer responsible and creative advertising featuring our products, trademarks, brands and spokescharacters suitable for our intended audiences.
One of the Carron managers responded:
"We have been selling this deep-fried Mars product for 20 years and this is the first time we have heard from Mars.
"But we are quite happy to put a disclaimer on the main menu for the shop because I don't want any reason for them to come back and try some sort of court action against me."
- Do you think that Mars's request is reasonable? Why or why not?
- What stronger argument could Mars have included argument in its letter?