An ad for Morrisons price-matching pledge has been banned following a complaint from rival Aldi, sparking both supermarkets to spin the ad regulator’s decision as a boon for their own marketing.
Morrisons has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to clarify the way it compares prices with other supermarkets under its ‘Match and More’ loyalty scheme. It means future promotions for the offer will need to be clearter on how shoppers can get discounts by accumulating points on their loyalty cards everytime a comparable item from a supermarket is cheaper.
The shake-up to the loyalty scheme comes after Aldi made four complaints about two separate ads, while the public complained about a fifth issue.
One ad starred presenting duo Ant and Dec and showed how shoppers can use the loyalty card to make their savings, as well as highlighted it being the first price-matching scheme to include discounters Aldi and Lidl. The other ad ran in regional newspapers with the claim: “It’s not just on brands. We price match your comparable grocery shopping across brands, own label products and fresh food”.
The watchdog said neither promotion clearly showed how people could verify the claim that ‘Match and More’ matched prices against Aldi as well Lidl,as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda
“We told Morrisons not to repeat the ads until they had ensured that the provided consumers (and competitors) with a sufficient method to verify the references to the price-match scheme,” the watchdog revealed in its ruling.
Aldi, which had mocked the loyalty scheme in ad campaign last year, welcomed the ad ban. The discounter had argued to the ASA that its rival’s offer lacks clarity in its terms and conditions.
"We are pleased with the ASA's decision to instruct Morrisons not to run the Match & More adverts again in their current form, said Tony Baines, joint managing director of buying at Aldi.
“This supports our view that these adverts did not provide consumers with sufficient price comparison data to enable them to make an informed choice. Our own analysis shows that the Morrisons Match & More scheme did not price match Aldi. In our view complex price promotions and price matching schemes of this nature are confusing, are not transparent and do not serve the best interests of consumers,” he added.
However, Morrisons said the ruling had not fully backed Aldi’s claim. The ASA dismissed four out of five of the complaints, including that £15 minimum spend to redeem the price-match pledge was not clear in the TV spot as well that the discount would be awarded in points not cash. It added that the product matches were consistently applied inline with consumers’ expectations of a “comparable grocery shop” and the supermarket’s own guidelines.
Martyn Jones, group corporate services director at Morrisons, described the outcome as “convincing”.
“The decision, by the Advertising Standards Authority, confirms the integrity of our price matching against our competitors including Aldi," he said. “This was a reasonable request which we quickly resolved. Shoppers with a receipt have always been able to discuss their savings with our customer services team but we have also made information clearer on our website. Overall the ASA’s ruling is a convincing outcome.”
Morrisons is reviewing the loyalty scheme, which some analysts have said is too complicated to trouble the discounters and tempt shoppers from existing alternatives. Chie executive David Potts, who joined the supermarket in March, has outlined his back to basics approach that will focus on improving the availability of stock alongside elevating customer service at its stores.