A leading UK electrical retailer had to defend ‘Always lowering prices’ before the Advertising Standards Authority. Did it relate to all products sold by the advertiser or just those in the ad? Read about the verdict and its apparent inconsistency with at least two other ASA decision at
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
When: April 2005
The ASA dealt with a complaint that a Currys national press advertisement was misleading.
The ad in question was for cookers, whose prices were indicated. In the bottom right-hand corner of the ad was the statement "Currys. Always lowering prices".
The complainant pointed out that Currys had recently increased the price of two cookers and objected that in light of this the claim "always lowering prices" was misleading.
In its defence, Currys said that the cookers that the complainant was referring to were not featured in the ad. They also asserted that the complainant was actually mistaken as regards the two cookers whose prices he alleged had increased. As regards the "always lowering prices" claim, Currys said they only intended this to apply to the products featured in the ad and the prices of the items shown had not been increased.
Perhaps surprisingly, the ASA agreed with Currys. Despite the superficially broad ambit of "always lowering prices," they took the view that the advertisement "implied" that most of the advertiser's products which featured in the advertisements were reduced in price. As the cookers referred to by the complainant were not featured in the advertisement, the fact that their prices had possibly increased was not relevant. Because most of the products in the ad were reduced in price, therefore, not even all of them, the ASA concluded that the claim was acceptable.
Why this matters:
It is interesting to contrast this verdict with two similar cases recently before the ASA involving B&Q in March 2004 and Asda in May 2005.
In the B&Q case the strap line at the bottom of the advertisement was "Always the lowest price," whilst in the Asda case it was "Always low prices."
In both cases the complaint against the advertiser was upheld because the ASA took the clear view that the line had a meaning extending well beyond any specific products featured in the ad using the strapline.
With B&Q, the ASA considered that "always the lowest price" was equivalent to a "lowest price guaranteed claim", which meant all of the advertisers' prices were always lower than their competitors …. not just those products featured in the ad using the strapline.
In the Asda case, the verdict was similar and we quote "The ASA considered that the claim "Always low prices" in an advertisement for insurance implied the advertiser's insurance quotes would be lower than competitors' quotes in most cases." [our italics].
It is difficult to see the basis for the quite different and narrow approach adopted in the Currys case and marketinglaw's view is that advertisers should use broad terms such as "always" with extreme caution and Currys were arguably very lucky to come out with a "complaint not upheld" verdict in this case.