The Advertising Code Committee (RCC) in the Netherlands, recently received a complaint about the packaging of ”Blue Band Roombeter” translated as “Blue Band Cream better“. The packaging would be misleading, according to the complainant, because it is not cream butter. However, the chairman of the RCC decided on September 5 that the packaging is not misleading: ‘In the name Roombeter/Cream better the first e stands out because of a different color, font and font size. Furthermore, directly below the name is written “100% vegetable”. From all this it is sufficiently clear that it is not a butter, but a vegetable product’, said the RCC.
The rule that a name or label may not mislead is there to protect consumers. So whether something is misleading must also be judged from the perspective of the average consumer. In my opinion, the average shopper normally races quickly past the supermarket shelves. I can imagine that when I pull this Cream better from the shelves, I am under the impression that I have put cream butter in my basket.
Overall picture: what’s in it, what’s on it?
According to European jurisprudence, the entire package must be taken into account to see if there is deception. But surely the average consumer in the supermarket hardly ever has time to look at the entire packaging? In my opinion, the name Roombeter/Cream better, including the questionable ”e” representing the curl of butter and the golden wrapper, immediately causes so much deception, that the rest of the packaging (clear indication as 100% vegetable) cannot change that much.
Special protected designations
In addition, certain protected product names may only be used if they comply with special rules. Very strictly speaking, you may not designate a product with any of the dairy designations defined in the law (including cream) if the product does not contain milk or any other dairy product. Whether Roombeter/Cream better), a plant-based alternative to cream butter, violates those rules remains to be seen.
That Roombeter/Cream better will be an unctuous topic of discussion goes without saying. This was only a ruling by the RCC, it can still be appealed to the Board of Appeal and a judge could also rule on it. I am very curious to see the outcome!