Mallowpuffs crowned most-loved biscuit by Griffin’s, but was the faux election campaign legal?

Almost 5,000 New Zealanders have taken to the polls and their votes have declared Mallowpuffs Original the nation’s favourite biscuit as part of Griffin’s ‘Bikkielections’ campaign.

This result marks the first time in the poll’s four-year history that Mallowpuffs has featured as one of the nation’s top three biscuits, let alone won the entire event.

The chocolate covered sugary delight beat out stiff competition from 57 contenders, but eventually landed topped every region in the country except for Tasman, which was more partial to the Cookie Bear Hundreds and Thousands. Hokey Pokey Squiggles narrowly beat last year’s winner, ToffeePops Original, in a hard-fought race for second and third. 

Interestingly, with its tally of around 798 votes, Mallowpuffs received more votes than one actual political party on this year’s election roll.       

Over the course of the campaign, Griffin’s emulated several of the activities occurring in the real election. Billboards featuring the biscuit range were put up in residential areas, often among legitimate election posters; a video of a faux debate between a Ginger Nut, a Toffee Pop and a Cookie Bear Hundreds and Thousands was posted onto the company’s Facebook page; and once the results were released, they were graphically represented as a confectionary parliament.

“Our biscuits have been campaigning hard to win votes and we are sure that Mallowpuffs’ promise to go soft on families is what got them over the line in the end,” said Griffin’s spokesperson James Clark in a release. “This year’s poll marks the fourth consecutive year that Griffin’s has asked Kiwis to vote for their favourite biscuit. And with people casting votes in the thousands we believe Kiwis are as passionate about their Griffin’s biscuits as they are about politics!”     

Following weeks of campaigning, the 2014 ‘Bikkielections’ poll was conducted via an app on Griffin’s Facebook page from 9 to 21 September. As was the case in previous years, Kiwi women were more likely to get involved and they accounted for 94 percent of all votes cast.

As was seen several weeks ago when the Electoral Commission found that a satirical website about Colin Craig was deemed to have contravened the Electoral Act, freedom of speech isn’t necessarily an effective defence if it meets the definition of electioneering for or against a particular political party.

Fortunately, the Griffin’s campaign doesn’t support any political leaning and thus does not fall under the Electoral Act’s definition of a third party promoter.

This rule would also apply to Four’s ‘Home of Not Election’, which also incorporated the use of billboard advertising during election campaigning.     

Furthermore, the Electoral Act also stipulates a that the advertisement should relate an actual election, a requirement that is not met in this case on account of the fact that the advertising relates entirely to an independent campaign, which is unlikely to be confused with the real election.    

Hilary Souter, the chair of the ASA, says that while the Griffin’s campaign does allude to the election, the advertiser did take steps to separate its message from the actual election by incorporating the phrase ‘Bikkielections’. And she also added that it would be worrying if members of the public were to be swayed by a billboard featuring a biscuit. 

Agency credits:

Tell Digital 
SMP Solutions
Duo PR 

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