The ASA ruled against Aldi over a similar campaign, to which Asda objected, in March last year.
TV and press ads at the end of December featured four shoppers discussing their experience of swapping from their usual supermarket to Aldi. Comparisons were based on four weeks’ grocery shopping at their usual supermarket and then four weeks’ shopping at Aldi.
Overall, Tesco claimed the adverts were misleading because the price comparison period was out of date and invalid in a price sensitive market, in which prices changed constantly. It also questioned whether the price comparisons were verifiable.
Comments included in Aldi’s ads included ‘we've saved so much on our weekly shop’ and ‘what surprised me more than what I saved financially ...’
Both ads claimed that 84 out of 98 people had saved cash by swapping from shopping at supermarkets to shopping at Aldi. They also stated: “Challenge completed between 16/09/13 – 01/12/13. Prices independently revalidated 13/04/14.
“Challenge based on four weeks’ grocery shopping at usual supermarket and then four weeks at Aldi.”
The ads highlighted that non-grocery items and high ticket items which did not form part of a typical weekly shop were excluded and referred consumers to Aldi’s website for more details.
Tesco’s main arguments
Tesco’s main arguments were:
- the cost of one of the individual’s shops was stated incorrectly in the verification information – Aldi called this an isolated error, which did not affect the validity of the data overall
- verification information relating to one of the individuals featured in the campaign was not available online – Aldi said the person did not want his detailed receipts released, but that information was available on request
- only four of the 98 individuals had undertaken the eight-week challenge; the remaining 94 had undertaken the challenge over two weeks and the ads did not make this clear – Aldi said the two-week data had been added at marketing advisory body Clearcast’s request and all figures were clearly referenced, although Clearcast acknowledged the ads’ text could have been clearer
- because the type of comparison being made was unique, small print explanation was insufficient – Aldi said it was the second time such ads had been run, so consumers were familiar enough with the approach, but it had included explanatory text after the ASA barred similar Aldi ads in March 2014
The ASA said the explanation of the method Aldi had used to substantiate its claims was unclear. It believed most consumers would think 98 shoppers had participated in its eight-week challenge, whereas in reality only four had. As a result, it decided that the ads were misleading.
It added that the explanation of what goods had been included and excluded was also unclear and that certain items that were not included should have been. And it said the criteria used for comparisons had been inconsistent.
The ASA highlighted that the error Tesco had picked out was one of a number of mistakes in the data provided.
It stated that online information provided to substantiate claims made in the adverts was hard for consumers to locate and did not make clear that just four people had taken part in the full eight-week trial.
Because of the errors and inconsistencies in supporting data and lack of clarity about how to find it and how comparisons had been made, the ASA said consumers could not verify Aldi’s claims.
As a result, the ads breached the Committee of Advertising Practice’s Code and should not appear again in their current form, it claimed.
That said, the ASA also concluded that on the basis of its calculations significant savings could still have been made by switching to Aldi.