UK supermarket price battle goes too far in advertisements: watchdog

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 6th August 2009

Morrisons become the latest UK supermarket forced to pull an advert comparing its prices to those of rivals today (5 August), after the UK ad watchdog upheld a complaint that the marketing material was misleading.The advert, which ran in the national press, carried the headline: “Trolley loads of savings at Morrisons – see for yourself”. Text underneath read: “Save money everyday thanks to hundreds of great offers at Morrisions”.

Pictured in the print advert was a trolley full of goods with four flags in it. The largest flag stated “GBP30.82 at Morrisons”. Other flags stated “GBP50.30 at Asda”, “GBP57.47 at Tesco” and “GBP54.73 at Sainsbury’s”.

Asda, the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, lodged a complaint against the advert with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), arguing that it was misleading because Morrisons compared products on promotion at its stores with the regular prices charged by its rivals.

The advertising watchdog sided with Asda, concluding that the advert was misleading and must not appear again in its current form.

“The goods selected were clearly not representative of a typical shop and the comparison was not based on a fair and representative sample of goods. We concluded that the ad was misleading,” the ASA said.

A spokesperson for Asda welcomed the ruling, suggesting that the Wal-Mart owned chain “really” offers lower prices.

“The ASA haven’t been fooled by Morrison’s claims and neither have shoppers – with a million more customers flocking to Asda in the last year, they know who’s really got the lowest prices,” the spokesperson said.

Morrisons was unavailable to comment at time of press.

The news follows an ASA ruling last week banning a Tesco price comparison advert, after Asda complained that Tesco failed to compare like-for-like products.

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