“Asda price guarantee 10% cheaper or we’ll give you the difference” claimed a national press ad. Tesco wrote to the Advertising Standards Authority challenging. It alleged that this misleadingly implied Asda was always cheaper than the named competitors. Was the complaint upheld? George Pearse reports on the outcome.
Who: ASDA Stores Limited
When: 31 August 2011
Where: Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA")
Law stated as at: 3 October 2011
ASDA ran a national press advertisement that read "ASDA Price GUARANTEE We mean it! 10% cheaper or we'll give you the difference." The advert was a price-comparison with other leading retailers such as Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury's. The small print at the bottom of the advert provided certain qualifiers and stated that a shopper must have purchased a minimum of 8 items, one of which had to be 'comparable'.
Tesco Stores Limited complained to the ASA because they believed that the 10% cheaper claim was misleading in nature; they felt it implied that ASDA was always 10% cheaper than its competitors.
ASDA responded to the complaint by asserting that their advert did not amount to a "lowest price claim" as defined in the CAP Help Note, 'Lowest Price Claims and Price Promises'. The guarantee related to the promise to give customers the difference on comparable grocery shopping if ASDA was not in fact 10% cheaper than their competitors. The use of "guaranteed" in this context served to clarify the meaning of the promise itself, claimed the retailer. In addition, it claimed to have received Copy Advice guidance in relation to their use of the word, prior to the advert's publication.
Ultimately the complaint was not upheld by the ASA, who investigated under CAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.3 on misleading advertising and 3.33 and 3.35 on comparisons with identifiable competitors. The decision was based upon the positioning of the word "Guaranteed" in the advert. The ASA opined that the manner in which this was done would lead consumers to believe that ASDA simply guaranteed to refund the difference, as opposed to be 10% cheaper than competitors on each and every product.
Why this matters:
This case illustrates some methods that marketers can employ to try and remain CAP Code compliant when making use of 'guarantees'.
- It is noteworthy that ASDA sought assistance from Copy Advice ahead of releasing the advert.
- A further point to take into account is the physical positioning of the word 'guarantee' itself. In this instance, ASDA ensured that it followed their 'refund the difference' claim, helping to take away any ambiguity.
- Any uncertainty within an advert increases the likelihood of it ultimately being misleading in nature. Marketers must ensure that the message is clear for consumers to interpret.