'Taking the pistachio' - Tesco rapped by watchdog over mobile phone ads

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FILE PHOTO: A general view of Tesco Extra store, in Warrington

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's advertising regulator has banned five adverts for Tesco's mobile phone business, saying its use of the words "shiitake" and "pistachio" alluded to expletives and were offensive.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday three of the ads were also banned because they were inappropriate for display where they could be seen by children.

The watchdog said one full-page newspaper ad for Tesco Mobile in the Daily Express and in the Daily Mail featured text which stated: “What a load of shiitake” in large text, followed by an image of a mushroom. Underneath that, text stated: “The big mobile networks are raising your bills again. Join us for prices that stay fixed.”

It said another ad in the same newspapers featured text which stated: “They’re taking the pistachio” in large text, followed by an image of a nut.

The ASA said a digital outdoor poster stated "For F", followed by three images of pasta, and the text “sake”. The three images of pasta then rolled away to reveal the text “For fettuccine’s sake”.

A paid-for Twitter post and another digital poster had similar messages.

The ASA concluded the allusion to expletives were likely to cause serious and widespread offence. It ruled the ads must not appear again in the form in which they had been complained about.

Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, said it prepared the ads with consumers in mind who were facing increasing prices and believed they were unlikely to cause offence.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter)

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