Tesco accuses Aldi of unfairly skewing its price comparison in favour of itself

Tesco complains to ASA about Aldi's skewed price comparison

Tesco has accused Aldi of unfairly skewing its price comparison in press ads, in favour of itself.

The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) received a complaint from its supermarket competitor concerning a press ad that compared a bundle of Aldi's home brand products with branded products available at Tesco.

Headed 'Swap to Aldi and save' the press ad read 'Tesco. These household brands and fresh products £61.56' next to a pile of items that included a bottle of Moët et Chandon Brut Impérial Non-Vintage Champagne, Kettle crips and a Lindt chocolate reindeer; all branded products.

Compared against this on the right, the ad read 'Aldi. These exclusive brands and fresh products £32.54.' Next to this sits a number of Aldi's own brands, including Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut. Underneath the comparison, the text reads 'save 45%.'

The press ad included small text at the bottom stating 'based on a comparison of Aldi products against brands and fresh products shown. Tesco may sell own brand products at different prices. Based on a selection of branded and fresh products checked on tesco.com on 07/12/19.'

After the press ad appeared, Tesco accused Aldi of not making it sufficiently clear that Tesco also sold alternative own-brand and branded champagne products at a cheaper price than the Moet. It felt that Aldi unfairly skewed the price comparison.

In response, Aldi defended itself arguing that the ad made clear that the Tesco goods were household brands while the Aldi goods were Aldi brands, both in the creative and the small print at the bottom.

It also said own-brand versus brand comparisons and multi-product comparisons were inherently permissible.

Despite Aldi's defence, the ASA banned the ad. It said that the message 'Swap to Aldi and save' would likely be understood to mean that consumers could make savings generally when swapping from Tesco to Aldi for their weekly shop.

It argued that the text that stated 'save 45%' was written in very large font, and therefore a clear focus which didn't make it sufficiently clear that the 45% savings related only to the specific selections featured.

The ASA did acknowledge that it was permissible for marketers to compare branded with own-branded products, provided the comparison was not misleading.

It said because the emphasis on the ad was price rather than quality, it had been directed at price-conscious Tesco customers.

For these reasons, the ASA told Aldi that the ad must not appear again in the form complained about.

It appears Aldi did not learn its lesson back in 2016 when it had its comparison ads banned by the ASA for misleading customers.

Back in 2016, two TV ads and one press ad that centred around comparing the price of goods to the 'big four' supermarkets, fell foul of the watchdog after Morrisons and two members of the public complained that the ads did not make clear that Aldi's won brand products were being compared with branded products.

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