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Tyson Foods has challenged a series of video advertisements released last year by rival Perdue Foods in a tiff that threatens to drag on into the fall.

Tyson said the ads are inaccurate and misleading to consumers. The Advertising Self-Regulatory Council, a watchdog branch of the National Advertising Division, recommended that Perdue alter or remove the television and online advertisements in question.

Perdue refused.

"Perdue does not believe any modification is needed, and is appealing this part of the decision," a company spokesman said in an email. "As the largest producer of organic chickens in the United States, Perdue is proud of its Harvestland Organic brand. Perdue also is committed to leading the industry in changing the way that chickens are raised, and will truthfully educate consumers about its continuing innovations."

In the next step in the process, the National Advertising Division board will review whether Perdue should alter its commercials to accurately reflect company practices.

"When companies don't comply or don't participate, we refer the advertising claims at issue to the Federal Trade Commission for further review," Linda Bean, director of communications with the National Advertising Division, said in an email.

Recommendations from the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council became public on April 27. Based on the caseload, Bean guessed Perdue's next hearing will be sometime this fall.

Jan Wicks, a journalism professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said companies use this self-regulatory council for disputes over advertising because it is less expensive, the materials shared by companies remain confidential and companies can address issues more quickly. It's become a standard for major national advertisers. The Federal Trade Commission agrees that the system is "efficient and useful," Wicks said.

Wicks declined to answer specific questions because she is one of 10 public members of the National Advertising Review Board and could be asked to serve on a panel in the Perdue case. She did, however, answer questions about the review process.

"While most national advertisers comply with [the board's] decisions, occasionally an advertiser might not comply," she said. "If that happens, the case is sent to the Federal Trade Commission ... [the trade commission] normally pays close attention to a case that comes from the ASRC system, as advertising experts have already reviewed it."

Tyson Foods says the commercials imply that Perdue raises all its chickens organically and that only a fraction of the company's chickens qualify for that designation.

Tyson Foods declined to comment for this article. But an 11-page document from the National Advertising Division, dated April 23, details Tyson's claims.

Tyson, a Springdale company, accuses Perdue of an "organic-washing" campaign. Perdue's advertisements imply that Perdue changed the way it raises all of its chickens and that all of its chickens are raised organically. According to Tyson, less than 1 percent of "all the chickens raised and sold by Perdue" are sold under the Harvestland Organic brand.

Tyson also says that Perdue implies in the ads that all of its chickens are happy and that one of the commercials ends with an actor saying "hashtag happy."

The ads feature the company's "Harvestland Organic" logo multiple times. Tyson says the logo alone in the ads is insufficient.

Tyson also says Perdue's website is misleading. But the council concluded that Perdue need not make website changes since it did not appear to be making a claim that all its chickens are organically raised.

Instead, the reviewers recommended that Perdue scrub the ads of the "happiness" claims because viewers may take away the impression that all of the company's chickens are allowed access to sunlight and the outdoors as depicted in the commercial. As a stipulation, if Perdue clearly conveyed that the ads applied only to the Harvestland Organic sub-brand, then Perdue did not have to modify the "hashtag happy" quote in the commercial.

SundayMonday Business on 05/13/2018

Print Headline: Tyson Foods takes issue with Perdue's organic-chicken ads

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  • KnuckleBall
    May 13, 2018 at 10:33 a.m.

    Tyson is a good one to complain... the Tyson ad that no antibiotics are used needs to be looked at... Although Tyson may not use antibiotics like they used to when my family raised chickens for them. Someone needs to ask about Steroid use, it is not normal to raise an 8 lb broiler in 7 weeks without a little help.

  • Jfish
    May 13, 2018 at 11:43 a.m.

    Agree with KnuckleBall. I am guessing that very few of these companies want you looking too deeply into their operations, for fear of what you might see. I am sure it is pretty sad, but hey, consumers want cheap chicken, and that is what they are getting.