Caru Determines General Mill’s Advertising for Yoplait ‘Splitz’ isn’t Likely to Confuse Child Consumers

New York, NY – April 4, 2011 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., had determined that broadcast advertising for “Yoplait Splitz” is not likely to confuse child consumers or persuade them that the General Mills’ product is ice cream.

CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, reviewed broadcast advertising for the product following a consumer complaint. The consumer teaches an after-school advertising literacy program.

In this case, CARU examined whether the television commercial conveyed, through express and implied messages, that “Splitz” yogurt is ice cream, tastes like ice cream, or could reasonably be mistaken for ice cream.  In making a determination, CARU considered what messages children would take away from the advertisement and whether those messages required substantiation.

The challenged commercial featured a boy preparing to open a yogurt cup. Upon peeling back the lid, the boy heard the iconic music of an ice-cream truck. Neighborhood children heard the music, as well, and ran toward the sound, yelling “ice cream, ice cream, ice cream.”  The boy then stated: “No. It’s yogurt.” The children appeared to disbelieve him and gave chase. An announcer then stated: “Introducing Yoplait Splitz, the yogurt that tastes like a sundae.” The last line in the advertising was: “Seriously, it’s yogurt.”

CARU guidelines direct that the “net impression” of an advertisement, including express and implied claims, any material omissions, and the overall format, must not be misleading to the children to whom it is directed.

Whether an advertisement leaves a misleading impression should be determined by assessing how children in the intended audience would interpret the message, taking into account their level of experience, sophistication, and maturity; limits on their cognitive abilities; and their ability to evaluate the advertising claims, CARU noted.

CARU considered but was not persuaded by the challenger’s contention that the narrative and visual techniques used in the advertisement – the contrived argument between the boy and the neighborhood children, the music and the cartoon graphic of an ice cream sundae on the product packaging – would confuse child viewers. 

As CARU noted in its decision, the “commercial did not show an actual ice cream truck or children eating ice cream” and the “animated visual of an ice cream sundae at the end of the advertisement conveyed a fanciful connection to the yogurt’s flavor.”

Although CARU noted that such techniques can potentially create a misimpression and must be employed carefully, CARU did not find in this case that such techniques created a misimpression.

CARU determined that a child viewer would not conclude from the advertising that “Splitz” was ice cream or that the yogurt would be indistinguishable from an ice cream sundae.

General Mills, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company is “pleased that CARU found the advertising for our Yoplait Splitz yogurt appropriate under the CARU Guidelines.   We will continue to ensure that our advertising is consistent with and supportive of CARU’s guidelines and goals.”