The ads promoted three bottles of selected wines for £10 or one bottle for £5, with consumers allowed a maximum of 12 bottles.
Participating wines included Campo Viejo – Rioja, Wolf Blass – Shiraz and Chardonnay and, Blossom Hill - White Zinfandel.
Consumers complained they had been unable to buy the wine advertised in the national press and online promotion, which began on May 22 2014, and so claimed it had been misleading.
One complaint also challenged whether the advertising was misleading because it had not included a cut-off date for the offer, which ran in 446 stores in England and Wales.
The ASA upheld the complaints. It recognised Morrisons had estimated the likely response to the deal by using the highest sales for the product lines in the offer for previous promotions.
It had included a 25% uplift to the estimate based on the strength of the promotion and had ensured there was contingency stock of 399,000 bottles.
In addition, the supermarket chain had responded to the high demand by adding additional product lines to the offer and transporting contingency stocks to stores. It also withdrew the advertising as soon as it became aware there was a problem.
However, in its published opinion, the ASA said: “We understood that the actual response to the offer led to some stores reporting very low stock levels on the first day and to promotions for the offer being withdrawn.
“We considered that the offer was one that was likely to be particularly attractive to consumers and noted that they could purchase up to 12 bottles in a single transaction.”
‘Problems with stock levels’
“We also noted that the promotion continued to be advertised for up to three days after the advertiser became aware of the problems with stock levels and concluded that the ads were misleading.”
The national press ad included small print reading: “Subject to availability. While stocks last.” However, while the ASA believed shoppers would not expect the deal to be long-term or permanent, it said Morrisons should have publicised its 10-day duration.
“We considered that, given this relatively short-term nature of the promotion, it was misleading to omit the offer end date from the ad, because it meant consumers were not provided with the information required to determine how quickly to act to obtain the offer.
“… We told Morrisons to ensure that they made reasonable estimates of demand for similar promotions in future and that they did not misleadingly omit offer end dates from ads.”