A tub of Vegemite is seen at a local cafeteria in Melbourne, Australia, January 19, 2017. Reuters/Jason Reed

Bakers Delight has received complaints from advertising watchdogs for running an allegedly appalling campaign on a digital billboard. The advertisement displayed a cheese and Vegemite scroll, four-pack of mini finger buns covered with chocolate M&Ms and a cheese and bacon roll with the text, “School lunches? Problem solved.”

A complainant said that the advertisement is irresponsible and unethical for marketing such products despite the obesity crisis in Australia. “Advertising of lollies on bread for school lunches is appalling. Lunch and healthy food choices is challenging enough for most families and to have this as an acceptable choice is unfathomable,” the complainant said.

However, Bakers Delight defended the ad, saying that the target audience were parents. “It is intended to target busy parents during the back to school rush period, to encourage them to consider Bakers Delight in their purchasing decisions. It is our intention to promote this product as a limited time only treat for occasional eating,” the company said.

The Advertising Standards Board upheld the complaints, saying that the ads have breached Section 2.2 of the Australian Association of National Advertisers ( AANA) Food Code. The code stated that Advertising or Marketing Communications for Food or Beverage Products shall not undermine the importance of healthy or active lifestyles nor the promotion of healthy balanced diets. “In the majority view, the Board considered this advertisement’s text and image amount to a message that is undermining the promotion of healthy balanced diets in relation to school lunches by strongly suggesting that a scroll and finger bun is a complete lunch box,” the ASB board said.

CP Communications advertising expert Catriona Pollard said that the wording in the ad did not reflect the message that Bakers Delight wanted to express. “The wording surrounding this is very specific. If they had advertised it in a different way and with different language they’d probably able to get away with it,” Pollard told SmartCompany. Pollard said that the word solution and solved contributed ASB's decision to support the complaint of the watchdogs. The advertising expert advised the brands to be vigilant in their word choice and target audience.

Bakers Delights decided to finish the advertising campaign that has taglines including “School lunches? Problem solved,” “Your lunchbox solution,” and “Be a lunchbox hero.” Bakers Delight said that it was disappointed that the campaign came to the ASB's attention. The company said that it promoted healthy products offered in every Bakers Delight bakery in the country. It added that the products are always fresh every day.