A TV ad for ASDA offering a 30-can pack of Pepsi at a promotional price of £6.74 instead of £11. On-screen text stated "Selected stores & availability. Offer ends 6 May.".
A viewer challenged whether the ad was misleading because they believed the advertiser had not made a reasonable estimate of demand for the product.
ASDA Stores Ltd said the ad ran for seven days between 27 April and 3 May inclusive and ended three days before the promotion finished. It promoted a 30-can pack of “original” Pepsi and featured on-screen text which explained the offer ended on 6 May, that the offer was available in selected stores and that it was subject to availability. They believed that on-screen text accounted for the circumstances in which demand was higher than what had been reasonably anticipated.
ASDA said that 464 stores participated in the promotion and when forecasting likely demand, they took into account two previous promotions for Pepsi in October 2014 and January 2015, where the pack had been on sale at £6. They also considered the in-store space which was to be given over to the promotion, the time of year of the promotion (over the first May bank holiday), the promotional price and the amount of planned TV advertising for the offer. Additionally, they factored in historical store sales data over the two previous promotions to anticipate the uplift in demand for the Pepsi to ensure sufficient availability throughout participating stores.
ASDA said that during the promotion, stock was monitored daily on a store-by-store basis and if a potential issue with the availability of the product was identified in a given store, additional supply was diverted from stores which were identified as having excess stock. Participating stores received deliveries of the product throughout the promotion and ASDA provided information about the availability of the product across participating stores throughout the promotion.
Of the stores visited by the complainant (six in total), ASDA said that one did not participate in the offer. However, they felt the ad had made clear that not all ASDA stores were participating. They provided the sales data for the two further stores, and confirmed that one store held stock until the penultimate day of the promotion. They explained the remaining three stores had been visited after the end of the promotion; however, those stores still had availability on the last day of the promotion, 6 May.
Clearcast received an assurance that ASDA had confirmed there was sufficient stock to cover anticipated demand during the promotional period and that if stock ran out, the ad would be removed from broadcast immediately. They noted the on-screen text which made clear the offer was not available in all stores. On that basis, they were happy to clear the ad for broadcast.
The ASA noted the complainant’s disappointment at visiting a number of stores to learn that no stock was available. Although the ad stated “subject to availability”, we considered nevertheless that ASDA still needed to make a reasonable estimate of likely demand. We understood that estimated demand was based on two previous promotions for the same product which had taken place in late 2014 and early 2015.
While the previous promotions differed very slightly in price and duration, we considered they served as a reasonable basis on which to estimate demand, when also taking into account the advertising planned, the in-store space given to the promotion, the time of year, and historical store sales data for the previous promotions.
We understood that ASDA monitored stock levels and that where demand had exceeded their anticipated levels in participating stores, excess stocks from other stores were diverted to those particular stores. In addition, we understood that stores received deliveries of stock throughout the duration of the promotion. While we noted that their estimates had not always been accurate and acknowledged that the complainant had been disappointed, we considered the evidence provided by ASDA demonstrated they had made reasonable estimate of demand and they had ensured stocks were replenished and diverted, as and when necessary during the promotion. We therefore concluded the ad did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.28 3.28 Broadcasters must be satisfied that advertisers have made a reasonable estimate of demand. (Availability), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.