The decision is final – ice cream makes you happy.
The ruling comes from the Advertising Standards Complaints Appeal Board after a Whangārei resident complained that their local dairy had put up a sign saying ice cream makes people happy.
For more than six years, the Maunu dairy had a billboard outside their shop that read in big red letters "Ice cream makes u happy" until a local resident lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority in September.
While the authority initially upheld the complaint which claimed the advert was undermining the health and wellbeing of children and adults by promoting an unhealthy relationship with food, the appeal board has now decided that the slogan didn't breach advertising standards.
Tui Crescent Food Market owner Nimesh Shah said he was happy with the decision.
While Shah wasn't obliged to take down the sign as it was subject to appeal, he had it replaced with a different billboard last month.
Maunu residents showed their support behind the Tui Crescent Food Market, saying that ice cream indeed made them happy, including 7-year-old Waikura-Jean Nolan who loves tucking into an icy, creamy treat.
Her parents, Tyler Nolan and James Peihopa, said eating ice cream was fine as long as you enjoy it moderation.
"Ice cream makes Waikura-Jean happy. I also think it's a good treat, especially on a hot day," Nolan said at the store yesterday.
In its appeal application, advertiser Unilever Australasia argued the phrase "Ice cream makes u happy" was hyperbolic and did not meet the threshold to undermine health and wellbeing.
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The complainant responded, challenging that view and referencing studies regarding the impact on advertising on consumer behaviour.
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A Unilever spokesperson said that the company acknowledged how important it was for New Zealanders to eat a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight and to look after their mental wellbeing.
"Unilever is pleased that the ASA reconsidered their decision on the 'Ice cream makes u happy' advertisement. The advertisement is a playful reference to enjoying ice cream as a treat food," they said.
The complainant wasn't available for a comment.
The appeal board said the advertisement – depicting a Paddle Pop, a Magnum and a Splice – was showing individual serving sizes of a treat food and used "obvious puffery", and concluded that it didn't undermine health and wellbeing.
Both the complaints and appeal boards have a public member majority.
Advertising Standards Authority chief executive Hilary Souter said the appeal board decision would help advertisers, consumers and the Boards with Code interpretation.
"Each decision helps inform the interpretation of the principles and rules in the advertising codes."
"A higher level of interest in the community about healthy eating means consumers are more conscious of the content and placement of treat food advertising. As a result, it is also a priority area in the training we do with industry."