ASA confirms complaint about promo of Prince Harry autobiography Spare
Ad watchdog says it will review book’s half-price launch deal at a popular bookseller.
Spare hit shelves on Tuesday with record-breaking sales / Dan Barker
The UK advertising regulator is to review a complaint over whether Prince Harry’s tell-all autobiography, Spare, broke its rules by launching with a half-price tag in Foyles.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has been made aware of the book promo after it hit the shelves of many major retailers yesterday (January 10) priced £14 – half its RRP. The ASA will have to decide whether the Foyles promotion truly constitutes a half-price offer.
While the ASA is not yet investigating the complaint, CAP regulations stipulate that for product launches, offers must be presented as introductory prices and not as discounts. The rules are also clear the price must genuinely increase after the introductory offer period is over.
According to the ASA site, “Advertising discounts on new products can be problematic when there is no pricing history to compare against.“
Pricing Q: Prince Harry's book launched in booksellers at 'half price' (and has become fastest selling non-fiction book)
The ASA consider ads to be misleading when products launch at half price, without stating they are introductory offers.
Is there a different rule for books? pic.twitter.com/wDVAYyncVX— dan barker (@danbarker) January 11, 2023
The ASA took action against In The Style in March for misleading consumers over a 50% off sale on a new collection. The fast-fashion retailer was sanctioned over the promotion and its inability to prove items in the collection had increased in price in the months after.
WHSmith, Waterstones, Amazon, The Works and Folyes are all selling copies of the Duke of Sussex’s book for the discounted £14, essentially making it a launch price. Spare has quickly become one of the UK’s fastest-selling nonfiction books of all time, with over 400,000 sales on its first day.
Prince Harry’s autobiography and the Sussex’s recent Netflix series have left many pondering the couple’s PR strategy. It’s not the first time the couple’s branding approach has been called into question, their Oprah interview having roused PRs in 2021.