Advertising watchdogs have declared a draw in the price war between
the Asda and Safeway supermarket chains by rejecting the complaints each
have made against the other.
The companies have been at loggerheads over Safeway’s ’price protected’
campaign through Bates Dorland, offering customers free products if they
could find them cheaper elsewhere.
Asda, which claimed the advertising was misleading, counter-attacked via
its agency, Publicis, with a message to one of Safeway’s famous child
stars, telling her: ’Mum’s pushing the wrong trolley, Molly!’ (Campaign,
19 September 1997).
However, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that neither Asda
nor Safeway has made a strong enough case for its rival’s advertising
tactic to be banned.
The ASA’s decision followed a study showing that 18 per cent of Asda
lines were cheaper than Safeway’s equivalent ’price protected’ offerings
and that a footnote in the Asda ad had made it clear the claim was based
on a sample weekly shop.
But the ASA refused to back Asda’s complaint against Safeway. It ruled
that the Safeway ads did not imply that ’price protected’ lines were
always cheapest, only that they were adjusted to remain competitive.
Meanwhile, Direct Line Financial Services has attacked the ASA’s
decision to uphold a complaint against a national press ad for an
’instant access’ account which took three working days to transfer money
to a bank or building society.
Direct Line claimed the ruling added to the confusion. Stephen Geraghty,
the company’s managing director, said: ’This ruling means that no
accounts where cheques must be issued or payments made through banking
systems can be advertised as offering instant access.’