ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Asda Group plc
Asda Group plc t/a
Great Wilson Street
14 June 2000
DSG Retail objected to a national press advertisement for the advertisers' web page. The advertisement claimed "Captain Value Mad searches prices on the web to bring together the best value - saving you time and money ... Zap into the best value on the Web! The latest and best CDs, books, videos, software, electricals, flights and holidays ... in association with ASDA". A footnote stated "www.valuemad.com searches for the best prices from a selection of third party web sites. Visit www.valuemad.com for full details". The complainants believed that other websites found cheaper prices for the same products and that the site was a vehicle for promoting Value Direct and ASDA products. They challenged:
1. whether the advertisers' web site found the best prices; and
2. the implication that the site searched third party sites and not just those of Value Direct and ASDA.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
The advertisers explained that, when it was launched, the site searched the ValueDirect and Dixons sites, but no ASDA sites, for the cheapest electrical goods prices available on those sites; subsequently DSG Retail asked for the Dixons sites to be removed from the Valuemad search; those were immediately replaced in the search by BE Direct sites. The advertisers explained that the Valuemad site made clear the third-party sites that it searched. They conceded that they had a commercial relationship with the searched sites; they explained that they received a small percentage of all revenue from the ValueDirect and BE Direct sites that had been generated by traffic directed to those sites from their Valuemad search. They stressed, however, that other sites were now searched and the search for best prices was not influenced by the existence of commercial relationships with the searched sites. The advertisers asserted that the advertisement claimed "best value" and not "best prices" and believed that, because the sites searched by the Valuemad site had been chosen because they satisfied stringent customer satisfaction criteria, customers would appreciate that the searched sites represented best value.
1. Complaint upheld
The Authority considered that customers would infer from the claim "best value" that the Valuemad search found the cheapest prices on the web. Because it did not, the Authority asked the advertisers to remove the claim.
2. Complaint upheld
The Authority acknowledged that, for product categories other than electronic goods, the advertisers' site searched several other websites, including other best-price search engines. It nevertheless noted that, when the advertisement appeared, the advertisers' site searched only two other electronic goods sites, both of which formed part of a commercial relationship with the advertisers. The Authority considered that the claim "selection of third party sites" exaggerated the number of sites searched. The Authority asked the advertisers to ensure that future advertisements did not exaggerate the capabilities of their search engine.