Who: B&Q plc.
Where: Advertising Standards Authority, London
When: 16th October 2013
Law as stated at: 24th October 2013
Two advertisements for B&Q consisted of:
• A national press advert showing photographs of fitted kitchen and bedroom furniture with the caption “20% OFF … OFFER EXTENDED ENDS 9TH MAY”.
• An in-store flyer similar to the first advert, also showing fitted kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture, with the caption “20% off … OFFER EXTENDED … Friday 26th April – Thursday 9th May”.
Homebase challenged whether the extension of the deadlines in these advertisements meant that the promotion was misleading and had been conducted fairly. The complaint was based on CAP code:
8.17.4.e, which states “Unless circumstances outside the reasonable control of the promoter make it unavoidable, closing dates must not be changed. If they are changed, promoters must do everything reasonable to ensure that customers who participated with the original terms are no disadvantaged.“
B&Q said the extension was due to low sales, which they considered a legitimate reason for extending the deadline, which was publicised before the expiry of the original end date.
The retailer said they regarded the original end date as a “minimum” end date, until which the offer would definitely continue to be available.
Because they knew that there was a chance that the promotion would be extended, the original marketing did not “over-exaggerate” (sic) the start and end dates, which had been included so as to comply with the CAP code.
The advertiser did not believe that consumers had been disadvantaged.
The ASA considered that the original advert, with the original dates, which used phrases such as ‘hurry’ suggested that, to take advantage of the 20% off offer, customers must act by the original end date: 25th April. The ASA believed that the promotional material with the original end date may have led to some customers being rushed into make a purchase, therefore putting them at a disadvantage.
Unexpectedly low sales, although not necessarily within B&Q’s control, were an insufficient reason to extend the promotion.
The ASA therefore concluded that the promotion was misleading and therefore in breach of the CAP code.
In the circumstances the extension of the end date meant the promotion breached CAP code rules:
• 3.1 (Misleading advertising)
• 3.31 (Availability)
• 8.2 (Sales promotions)
• 8.17.4.e (Significant conditions for promotions)
Why this matters:
Although the CAP codes requires statements with a promotion such as when it will begin and end, advertisers should make sure suitable dates are selected so that there is no need for an extension unless an extreme circumstance which would justify an extension occurs.