Front page flashes on the Daily Star and Daily Express were challenged by 12 complainants on grounds that they seemed to offer instant fulfilment in the form of a discount coupon inside the newspaper. There were also concerns that the offer misleadingly implied this was an exclusive Star/Express offer. Omar Bucchioni reports.
Topic: Promotion marketing
Who: Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Express Newspapers
When: July 2012
Law stated as at: 30 July 2012
The Advertising Standards Authority “ASA” has recently investigated front-page flashes on both the Daily Star and Daily Express. Both texts stated “£5 OFF SHOPPING AT TESCO WHEN YOU SPEND £40 DETAILS: PAGE XX”. At the relevant page, both newspapers included an ad with a text stating “A helping hand from Tesco. £5 Off Simply spend £40 at Tesco this week and receive a £5 off coupon for your next week’s £40 shop …”.
Twelve complainants challenged whether the front-page flashes were misleading, because they believed they implied there would be a £5-off coupon inside the newspapers and there weren’t.
What Express Newspapers had to say
Express Newspapers said that the ads did not misleadingly imply that there was a coupon inside the newspapers since the text only stated that it was possible to get £5 off shopping at Tesco when spending £40. They said the flashes indicated that T&Cs and full details of the promotion were stated at the page referred to in the flashes. They also said that if a coupon had been part of the promotion they would have stated as much, as they had in other coupon promotions.
Surprisingly, Express Newspapers also added that making clear a coupon was not required, would only have encouraged more consumers to purchase the newspapers, because it was an additional benefit compared to coupon offers.
What the ASA had to say
The ASA considered the front-page flashes and confirmed that they did not explicitly state there was a coupon inside the newspapers. However, the ASA took the view that the overall impression of the ads was such that consumers would believe there was a discount offer that was available only to readers.
Instead, the relevant page included paid-for advertising by Tesco describing a promotion whereby customers would receive a coupon for £5 off the next week’s £40 shop if they spent £40 during the current week, rather than receiving a £5 discount in return for a single £40 shop as the front-page flashes stated.
In addition, the promotion was generally available to Tesco customers, rather than only to readers of the Daily Star and Daily Express.
Therefore, the ASA found that the ads misleadingly implied the newspapers included a £5 discount offer that could be redeemed without further significant conditions when spending £40, for example in the form of a coupon. As this was not in fact the case, the ads breached the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) and 8.29 (Sales promotions).
As a reminder, the CAP Code states as follows:
General marketing communication MUST NOT:
3.1 materially mislead or be likely to do so.
3.3 mislead the consumer by omitting material information*. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
*= Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means.
8.29 Publishers announcing reader promotions on the front page or cover must ensure that consumers know whether they are expected to buy subsequent editions of the publication. Major conditions that might reasonably influence consumers significantly in their decision to buy must appear on the front page or cover.
Why this matters:
Front-page offers must contain a clear message which includes all the information necessary needed to make an informed decision, regardless of whether the T&Cs are fully explained inside the newspapers. “£5 OFF SHOPPING AT TESCO WHEN YOU SPEND £40 DETAILS: PAGE XX” was not sufficient to deliver a fair “summary” of the promotion which Tesco was running because the overall impression delivered to consumers was non consistent with the T&Cs of the promotion i.e. there was no voucher available in the newspaper as one would have expected by reading the front-page flashes.