In the UK the advertising industry is a self-regulating industry, the regulatory body for which is the Advertising Standards Authority (the “ASA” ). The ASA adjudicates complaints that are brought against advertisers on the basis of the Code of Advertising Practice (the “CAP” code). Challenges on the basis of the code can be brought by anyone, including competitors. From time to time we will update you on interesting ASA developments, courtesy of our colleagues at Redd Solicitors LLP.
Asda Stores Ltd (“Asda”) brought a challenge in respect of three national press advertisements and a television advert used by its rival supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. The ads were for the promotion of Sainsbury’s “Brand Match” under which Sainsbury’s offered to match prices on branded products offered by its competitors, Asda and Tesco, by providing a money-off coupon at the till if the branded products could have been bought at Asda and Tesco more cheaply.
Five specific claims that the ads were misleading were investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (the “ASA”). The only claim ‘Upheld’ was that certain conditions of the price promise, specifically, that not all of Sainsbury’s stores were participating, was ambiguously conveyed in the ads and the ads were therefore likely to mislead the public. Although information of the excluded stores was included on the related Sainsbury’s “Live Well for Less” website and in the terms and conditions, the ASA considered that this information should have been made clearer to consumers in the ads themselves. The ASA forbade the further appearance or broadcast of the ads in their current form and ordered Sainsbury’s to make the limitations on participating stores clearer.
Take Away Tip: any exclusions or limitations to a deal or offer, especially if they could be seen to be unexpected, should be clearly and unambiguously communicated to the public. It is not enough to simply rely on a link to more detail on a website or in terms and conditions.