The advertising which featured a woman alongside a full shopping trolley referred to the following:
A label printed to the left read.
“Save over 50% VS Competitors*
From presses to fridges and everything in between we have all you need to get a trolley-load of value – you can get your full shop at less than half the price of other supermarkets, leaving you more time for the little extras.”
The same woman (as above) appears again, this time she is standing in front of two full food presses. The press to her left is referenced as:
‘Other supermarkets €174.30’.
The press to the woman’s right is referenced as
“Lidl €62.70 #FullShop”
The caption beneath the presses read:
“Beat the Brands With Lidl Prices”
The bottom right hand corner of the screen referenced the fact that:
“*Terms & Conditions Apply”.
A table of products for price comparison purposes also featured, two of the products referenced were:
Bellarom | Gold Decaf Freeze Dried Coffee | 100g | €1.99 | Nescafe | Gold Blend Decaff | 100g | €5.65 | €5.65
Bellarom | Freeze Dried Coffee Gold | 200g | €2.95 | Nescafe | Gold Blend | 200g | €8.79 | 8.79
The complainants, Nestlé UK expressed their concerns that Lidl were comparing their Nescafé Gold Blend to Lidl’s Bellarom Freeze Dried Coffee Gold, and Nescafé Gold Blend Decaffeinated to Lidl’s Bellarom Gold Decaffeinated Freeze Dried Coffee.
The complainants said that the advertisers were not comparing like with like products for the following reasons:
(i) They considered that the title of the Campaign ("Full shop. Half price") and the accompanying hashtag #FullShop told the reader that Bellarom Gold coffee and Nescafé Gold Blend coffee were like for like products. They said that the Campaign in conjunction with the comparison table suggested that consumers could buy a product as good as the Nestle products for a much lower price. They disagreed with the implication that the Lidl products were of similar quality to theirs.
(ii) They said The Nescafé Gold Blend coffee products were part of the NESCAFÉ Plan and Farmer Connect, and Lidl’s own branded coffees were not affiliated with similar plans that aimed to address the sustainability of the Coffee Industry. They did not consider therefor that the Lidl Campaign fairly and objectively compared the respective products as required by comparative advertising rules.
(iii) The Campaign did not set out all the material information required for the reader to decide whether the Bellarom Gold and Nescafé Gold Blend products were comparable. For example, they said, there was no information on the main ingredients and composition of the respective products.
The advertisers said the premise behind their advertising campaign had been to highlight to consumers that by purchasing a full shop of goods in their stores rather than buying a full shop of “well-known branded goods” from other stores (where available), customers could make a saving of 50% on their full shop. At all times they said their Campaign had focussed on the savings to be achieved when shopping with Lidl for their own branded products. They said they had provided what they considered to be robust substantiation for their pricing claims on their website.
The advertisers said they did not consider their advertising to be in breach of the requirements of the Code.
They responded to the specific issues raised as follows:
1. The advertisers disputed the claim that their campaign and hashtag told consumers that they were comparing products on a like for like basis. They said that their Campaign name together with the statement “Beat the Brands / With Lidl Prices” made it clear that the focus of the campaign was the prices of Lidl own brand products against well-known branded products and the savings that could be achieved when shopping Lidl own brand goods.
They said that the hash tag served to facilitate social media feedback and pointed out that it was a common tool used on this medium.
They added that they were required by the Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland (the Code) to provide robust substantiation of the price claims that they made in relation to the products mentioned in their campaign and they considered that this was the only possible purpose that the substantiation table referenced by Nestle could possibly be construed as.
2. The advertisers said that the focus of the Campaign was on the prices of Lidl own brand goods against well-known branded products and the savings that could be made. They considered that this was made abundantly clear with the Beat the Brands / With Lidl Prices reference and the comprehensive substantiation table provided by them.
3. They advertisers disagreed that the Campaign did not set out all material information for customers to decide whether the products were comparable. They said that it was abundantly clear that this was not the point of the campaign. The campaign showed how much could be saved when a customer bought Lidl own brand goods rather than well-known branded products. They considered that it was at all times made clear that Lidl own brand against well-known branded was the basis of the price saving demonstration. They said that their detailed price substantiation table which was available to customers on their website at all times provided the customer with all the relevant information they required in order to ascertain the savings they could achieve by shopping Lidl own brand as against well-known branded goods.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the Code requirement that in comparative advertising the basis for selection should be clear. The Committee also noted that compliance with the Code is assessed in the light of a marketing communication’s probable effect when taken as a whole and in context.
They considered that while the statement ‘Full Shop. Half Price’ could if taken in isolation imply that the same products or products comparable in quality were being compared, the inclusion of ‘Beat the Brands | With Lidl Prices” clearly flagged that the campaign was a price comparison campaign. In this context, they noted, significantly, that the subject matter of the complaint was a commodity and limited to two product single variants only.
The Complaints Committee did not consider the advertising to be in breach of the requirements of the Code.
No further action was required in this case.