Aldi adverts banned after Tesco complains "Swap and Save" is misleading
On the final day of what has been a pretty awful year for Tesco, perhaps a small victory over Aldi might go some way towards a better 2015. Tesco have successfully appealed to the ASA that Aldi’s “Swap and Save” adverts, showing how much consumers can save by switching to Aldi were actually misleading. However, the ASA still reckons that Aldi is cheaper overall…
This is actually the second time Aldi has run the campaign, and the second time they have got in trouble over it. Now, after an investigation, the ASA agreed Aldi offered savings, but it banned the adverts on the grounds that they exaggerated how many people had taken part in the challenge, and questions over the shopping basket data used.
Tesco complained that the comparison was misleading because it believed the eight-week comparison period was out of date and invalid for a price sensitive market. They also complained that weekly shops were not compared on a like-for-like basis- with some ‘high ticket’ or non-weekly items excluded on a sometimes arbitrary basis, and that explanatory information in the adverts was not prominent enough.
However, Tesco’s main gripe was that the adverts stated 84 out of 98 people saved, and that the challenge upon which the advert was based involved an eight week challenge-four weeks' shopping at a competitor and then four weeks shopping at Aldi. However, when looking into the background data published by Aldi, Tesco discovered that only four of the 98 individuals had undertaken the eight-week challenge and the remaining 94 had undertaken the challenge over two weeks.
Aldi had tried to address some of the concerns raised by Tesco, and had tested to see whether prices had materially moved since the challenge was undertaken (December 2013) and the advert showing in April 2014. They hadn’t. The inconsistency with the number of people taking the trial had come about after Clearcast, the advertising clearance agency, had advised Aldi they needed more data to substantiate their claims. Consequently, Aldi had rerun the trial with more people over two weeks to add to the original eight-week trial data.
To resolve the issue, the ASA did its own calculations, taking into account items it believed should have been included and excluded, and allowing for inconsistencies and inaccuracies in Aldi's interpretation of the data. The ASA figures still showed that savings in the original shops ranged from 22% to 33%. The savings for a shorter 'revalidation' trial were even better, ranging from 25% to 38%.
The ASA concluded that “we considered those amounts represented significant savings at the time of both the original shops and the revalidation shop, and therefore that the overall message of the Swap & Save campaign, that consumers could save money by shopping at Aldi, was not misleading to consumers.”
However, “ because we considered the way in which the comparison was presented in the ads implied more people had participated in the eight-week challenge than was the case, we concluded the ads were in breach of the Codes.”
So it’s a bit of a hollow victory for Tesco. Yes the ads were misleading, but not on the actual main thrust of the ad. That it is actually cheaper to shop at Aldi. Happy New Year Tesco.