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Product: Retail - Supermarket
Advertiser: Aldi Ireland
Medium: Internet (Company Website), Press, Television
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.2, 3.4, 4.1, 4.4, 4.9, 4.10, 4.31, 4.32
A television advertisement for Aldi featured a family finding out how much they saved when they shopped with Aldi for four weeks. Statements made by the family during the advertisement included:
We had this image that because we were going to be buying cheaper, we will be cutting our quality, but it didn't happen at all.
Everything was excellent quality.
We swapped to Aldi and we saved €486 for 4 weeks.”
A footnote appeared on screen for a part of the advertisement:
“Saving over 4 weeks. Shopping period before switching to Aldi, 06/01/20 to 02/02/20. Aldi shopping period 03/02/20 to 01/03/20. Participants received a gratuity.”
Press advertising featured the same family and the savings that they made over a four-week period shopping at Aldi.
“It’s simple. You get a lot more for so much less.”
The advertisement included the image of a shopping bag filled with groceries. Written on the front of the bag was:
“We swapped and saved €486 over 4 weeks.”
The advertisement also stated:
“Swap to Aldi and see if you could save”
The “Amazing Savings” section of the advertisers’ website included details of various families that had participated in “The Aldi Challenge”.
A banner at the top of the page included several families and featured the saving that they had made over their four-week shopping period. The savings ranged from €152 to €548.
Tesco Ireland considered that the advertising made a clear implication that the savings were achieved by shopping in Aldi rather than with a competitor supermarket, hence making the claim a comparative advertising claim. While they noted the information provided in the footnote of the advertising detailing the dates the shopping had taken place, they objected to the advertising on the following grounds:
Issue 1. No information on the breakdown of the savings or substantiation for the savings had been provided for the amounts.
Issue 2. It was not possible to verify the savings claim as it was not clear what products the savings related to.
No information had been provided as to how the products purchased had been selected.
In the circumstances they considered that it was impossible to verify Aldi's price savings claims and the advertising was therefore misleading.
The advertisers said that the campaign involved participant families, who had not previously shopped at Aldi, being invited to switch to Aldi and then compare the cost of shopping in Aldi with the cost of their previous shopping.
The advertisers said that the participants shopped in Aldi for four weeks and the cost of that shopping was compared with the cost of their shopping in the previous four weeks before they switched to Aldi. They said that the savings claimed in the campaign were the differences in price between the two sets of shopping and that they did not choose the products comprised in the participants’ shopping as they were chosen by the participants themselves as part of their normal shop. They also said that the campaign had not identified, either by implication or expressly, where the participants had carried out their previous shopping or otherwise identified any competitor of Aldi, nor had it indicated whether the participants had carried out their previous shop in a local store or in a larger supermarket and in the circumstances, they did not consider that the campaign was a competitor campaign for the purposes of Section 4.31 of the Code.
As stated above, they said that the contents of the participants’ shopping were not decided by them, as they were chosen by the participants themselves and they confirmed that they had no input into what the participants purchased, therefore, there was no unfair selection of products. They considered that the participants choosing the products themselves gave a better reflection of the savings likely to be achieved by a family and said that the savings were genuine and could be substantiated.
The advertisers provided the ASAI Executive with copies of receipts for a representative sample of families who participated in the campaign. The representative families had been chosen by the ASAI Executive as substantiation for the savings claims.
Upheld in Part.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Committee noted both that the complaint was predicated upon the marketing communications being a comparative advertising claim and the corresponding contention that the campaign was not a competitor campaign for the purposes of Section 4.31 of the Code. The Code section incorporated that marketing communications that do not identify a specific competitor could still be considered to contain an implicit comparative claim and could relate to advertisers’ own products or those of their competitors. The marketing communications concerned included the phrases “We swapped to Aldi and we saved…” and “Swap to Aldi and see if you could save”. In all the circumstances arising, the Committee considered that the marketing communication was a comparative claim in the context of the Code.
Issue 1 – Not Upheld:
The Committee noted that the advertisers had provided substantiation to the ASAI in relation to a representative sample of the participants two 4-week shopping experiences, including the products purchased. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code on the basis suggested in this aspect of the complaint.
Issue 2 - Upheld:
The Committee considered that the advertising campaign had made it clear that the savings made by the participants were based on the fact that those featured had switched their grocery shopping to Aldi over a specific period of time and was inviting consumers to swap to Aldi where they could also potentially save money on their shopping. The Committee, however, noted that no information had been provided in the advertising or on the advertisers’ website on where the participant’s initial 4-week shopping had taken place or provided any information on the products purchased. In the circumstances, the Committee considered that the absence of such information meant that consumers could not verify if the savings advertised were likely to be relevant to them based on their shopping habits.
As the advertising had not included any such information, or even a direction to the information, the Committee considered that the advertising was misleading by omission and was in breach of Sections 4.1 and 4.4 of the Code.
Issue 3 – Not Upheld:
The Committee noted that the advertisers had not chosen the products purchased by the participating families as the mechanics of the comparison was that it was based on the individual family’s shopping experience over two four-week periods, one four-week period based on the family’s usual shopping pattern and the second with the family shopping in the advertisers’ stores. Given that the mechanics of the comparison were clear in the advertising, and that the selection of products arose from the individual families’ decisions, the Committee did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code.
Action Required: The advertising should not appear in its current form again.
The Committee told the advertisers to ensure that consumers were provided with information on the details of the shops carried out in the campaign, that is, where the participant’s initial 4-week shopping had taken place and information on the products purchased; this could be by providing the information on their website and signposting this in their advertising.