Price comparison adverts ruled in breach of ASA standards

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Food_Manufacture_Sponsors_2020_Business Leaders_781x285In October 2018, Tesco launched a series of press and TV advertisements which featured trolley and basket loads of products which Tesco claimed were cheaper than if they had been bought at Aldi or Lidl. The products were all from the ‘Exclusively at Tesco’ range which is the supermarket’s entry level own-brand.

Aldi Stores Limited complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claiming that the adverts were misleading because the adverts implied that the Tesco baskets/trolleys of goods were representative of a typical shop at Tesco, and therefore representative of the prices and savings that could be typically achieved when shopping at Tesco rather than Aldi or Lidl. Furthermore, they were entirely comprised of Tesco own-brand products which were only available in selected English Tesco stores and did not therefore constitute typical shops for consumers living in other parts of the UK.

Tesco said the basket and trolleys in the adverts did not explicitly or implicitly represent typical shops and did not contain general savings claims. They believed they should be able to highlight a specific range of own-brand products against comparable competitor products, as they had done in the campaign, without an additional requirement that the examples must represent a typical regular shop.

The ASA ruled that all of the adverts were misleading because they did not make clear that none of the products from the ‘Exclusively At Tesco” range were available in Tesco Express or Metro stores and that the specific combination of products upon which the savings were calculated were available in fewer than half of their larger stores. The ASA found the adverts gave the overall impression consumers could save money by swapping from shopping at Aldi or Lidl to buying from the ‘Exclusively at Tesco’ range. It said: “We considered that the ads made clear the comparison was between entry-tier exclusive brands at Tesco and entry-tier exclusive brands at Aldi and Lidl, as opposed to typical shops at each retailer, and we were satisfied that Tesco had included in the comparison products that would provide for a fair and representative comparison of the price of products in those entry-tier ranges.”.

The adverts breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising), 3.33 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors) and 3.39 (Price comparisons), and ad (e) breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising), 3.33 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors) and 3.39 (Price comparisons).

The ASA ruled that none of the adverts should appear again in their current form.