Shall I compare thee…? Making comparisons with identifiable competitors

Making comparisons between your product or service and those of your competitors can be a great way to make your brand stand out in the marketplace, and help consumers decide which product or service is best for them.

If the audience is able to name at least one competitor or competing product when looking at a comparison, it will be considered a comparison with an identifiable competitor.

Make sure that your comparisons comply with the Advertising Codes by following the advice below.

Hold evidence

Unless it is an obvious exaggeration (‘puffery’) or a claim which will not be taken literally by the average consumer, you must not make any comparisons unless you hold evidence which substantiates them.

The type of evidence needed will depend on the claim made, and how it will be understood by consumers. Superiority claims, such as “best”,  “no. 1” and “leading” are likely to need different evidence to top parity claims. Whole market comparisons, such as “The UK’s number 1 breakdown service provider” need to be supported by evidence which relates to all competitors on the market, but comparisons about specific named competitors do not.

Be aware that self-reported consumer data will not be sufficient to support a claim that would otherwise require objective substantiation. See Comparisons: Awards and consumer surveys.

Compare similar products

Comparisons with identifiable competitors must compare products meeting the same need or intended for the same purpose (CAP Code rule 3.34).

Essentially, the products being compared must display a sufficient degree of interchangeability for consumers. Examples of acceptable comparisons include: branded and non-branded versions of the same underlying product, or different products which are intended to meet the same purpose, such as dishwasher tablets, or mobile phone networks.

Make the comparison verifiable

The Code requires that comparisons with identifiable competitors are verifiable (Rule 3.35).

‘Verifiable’ simply means including enough information in the ad to enable consumers to fully understand, and check the accuracy of, comparative claims. Unless a comparison is easily verifiable from the information within the ad itself, for example when making a direct price comparison between two products, the ad should signpost the information, which should be easily accessible, for example by including “*To verify visit www…” or “Contact XXX for verification”.  

As always, if you’re not sure whether your non-broadcast ads stick to the rules, the CAP Copy Advice team are on hand to provide free bespoke advice.

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