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Watchdog scoffs at Delia cake ad

A Waitrose advert for Delia Smith's Christmas cake has been belatedly banned for misleading viewers about the number of ingredients they had to buy, a watchdog has revealed.

The TV advert for the pre-packaged cake mix, accompanied by a national press advert, featured Smith saying: "This year my traditional Christmas cake recipe is going to be the easiest thing ever. I'm really excited by this, because all the preparation has been done for you.

"You start with very soft butter and eggs in a bowl, and all you do is just empty the bags of all the different ingredients. You've got the soaked vine fruits, some lovely chopped nuts and even the treacle has been measured for you."

She added: "Then you need to feed the cake with Armagnac or brandy. There's something about the smell of a home-baked Christmas cake that makes you feel really excited. Hats off to Waitrose for doing it."

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said three viewers and a reader challenged whether the adverts were misleading because they did not make it clear that additional ingredients needed to be bought in order to complete the iced and decorated cake as shown in the adverts.

Defending the advert, the supermarket said cake-mix products usually only included dry ingredients, and it believed consumers would be aware that they needed to add stock ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, oil and water.

The ASA said that while consumers were likely to expect that the fresh products such as eggs and butter would need to be bought separately, they would not expect to have to buy additional ingredients such as an orange and a lemon for zest or alcohol to "feed" the cake.

It said: "Because the ads did not make clear that additional ingredients were also required to produce the featured cake, we concluded that the ads were misleading."

It ruled that neither the press ad or the TV ad should appear again in their current forms.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: "There was never any intention to mislead shoppers as we genuinely believed that our customers wouldn't expect fresh dairy ingredients such as butter, eggs or a whole orange and lemon to be actually included inside the cake ingredients pack. The pack clearly stated that customers would need to purchase these ingredients separately."

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