Sainsbury's censured over claims consumers need not shop around

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a TV ad for Sainsbury's after ruling it misleadingly told consumers they need not shop around at Tesco and Asda for the best branded deals.

The ad, promoting Sainsbury’s Brand Match money-back guarantee, depicted customers shopping, with the TV screen split into three and a section each representing Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda.

A voiceover stated: "Deals. Everywhere, aren’t they? But wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to go everywhere to get them? That’s why Sainsbury’s Brand Match matches comparable branded deals at Tesco and Asda."

Copy at the bottom of the screen included the words: "Deals matched if you buy the same quantity... Excludes category whole promotions. If the same branded shop could have been bought for less at Asda or Tesco on the same day, you will get a coupon for the difference."

Two viewers complained that the ad was misleading. They took issue with the fact that Brand Match compared the total cost of a branded shop and that any coupon for the difference would be reduced if products on offer at Sainsbury’s were more expensive at Asda or Tesco. Therefore, they argued, the claim that consumers need not shop around for the best deal was misleading.

Sainsbury’s countered that the ad was not misleading, and said that the voiceover and onscreen text made it clear that the comparison was of the total price of the branded shop.

The ASA considered that the overall message of the ad was that consumers need not shop around to benefit from all of deals on branded goods at the three supermarkets, but sided with the complainants.

The watchdog's understanding was that the amount of any coupon for the price difference would be reduced if any of the purchased branded items on offer at Sainsbury’s were more expensive at Tesco or Asda. Therefore, to achieve the cheapest overall price, it would be necessary to shop in different supermarkets.

The ASA ruled that the ad’s overall message, in particular, "wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to go everywhere to get [the best deals]?", misleadingly implied consumers did not need to shop around to obtain the full savings from deals, when in fact that was not the case.

Sainsbury’s was told not to broadcast the ad again in its current form and that it should not state or imply that consumers did not need to shop around to fully benefit from deals at the three supermarket chains.

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