‘Offensive’ Tesco advert that replaced swear words with vegetables banned

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 11th May 2022

A series of Tesco Mobile adverts that featured vegetable names in the place of swear words has been banned.

The adverts used words like ‘shiitake’ and ‘pistachio’ in the place of expletives – drawing 52 complaints.

The Advertising Standards Agency has now ruled that the ads were ‘likely to cause serious and widespread offence’ and has moved to ban them.

Tesco Mobile has apologised for any offence caused and said it was simply trying to ‘reflect the frustration’ customers face with rising bills.

The advert in question. Credit: Tesco Mobile

The series of adverts appeared on billboards, in newspapers, and in a sponsored Twitter post.


The digital versions featured the words: “What a load of shiit,” before a mushroom rolled away to reveal the full message of: “What a load of shiitake.”

Another stated: “They’re taking the pistachio.”

The adverts have been banned. Credit: Tesco Mobile

The adverts were promoting Tesco Mobile’s fixed price phone contracts.

Some people complained that the adverts were offensive because words like ‘shiitake’, ‘pistachio’ and ‘fettucine’ alluded to expletives, and were displayed in places where they might be seen by children.

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The ASA ruled: “’Sh*t’ and ‘p*ss’ were words so likely to offend that they should not generally be used or alluded to in advertising, regardless of whether they were used in a tongue-in-cheek manner.”

A Tesco Mobile spokeswoman said: “We’re really sorry for any offence caused. We know the frustration that consumers face when they notice their mobile phone bill has gone up mid-contract and we were reflecting their frustration – and ours – in these ads.

“We’re proud to offer our mobile customers supermarket value, and so we used a play on words relating to food products.”

Featured image: Tesco