A TV ad for Booking.com featured a woman on holiday at a resort participating in various activities such as horse riding and dancing. The voice-over stated, "Planet Earth's number one accommodation site. Booking.com. Booking.yeah" and on-screen text stated "Planet Earth's #1 Accommodation Site".
A viewer challenged whether the claim "Planet Earth's number one accommodation site" could be substantiated.
Booking.com Ltd (Booking.com) said that in the context of a campaign that focused solely on hotels, resorts and hostels they believed viewers would interpret the claims to refer to the fact that Booking.com had more bookings for holiday and leisure accommodation than any other online travel agents. They said the claim was supported by research from Q1 2014, which they provided, carried out by an independent travel market research company. They said that the research reported a figure for the Priceline group as whole, of which Booking.com was a part. They provided details of the percentage of those bookings which Booking.com were responsible for and said this meant that their nearest competitor reported in the research document could not claim to beat their number of bookings.
Clearcast said they had approved the claim "Planet Earth's number one accommodation site" based on evidence they received which showed that Booking.com sold significantly more rooms by Q3 in 2013 than their nearest competitor. They provided a copy of the relevant travel market research company report from December 2013.
The ASA considered that in the context of the ad, which showed a woman on holiday at a resort and was targeted at consumers looking to book accommodation online, consumers would understand the claim "Planet Earth's number one accommodation site" to mean that Booking.com had more accommodation bookings than any other travel accommodation booking site worldwide. The research had been carried out by an independent travel market research company and the two reports from Q3 in 2013 and from Q1 in 2014 demonstrated that the Priceline group consistently sold more hotel-room nights than their nearest rival and had done since at least 2012. We understood that the percentage of those bookings which Booking.com were responsible for meant that Booking.com had more hotel-room night bookings than any other accommodation site worldwide. We noted that the same research reports showed that the Priceline group's total gross turnover from bookings from Q1 to Q3 2013 and in Q1 2014 in US dollars were slightly lower than their nearest rival group's figures. However, in the context of the ad we did not consider that the gross turnover figure would be relevant to consumers' interpretation of the claim. Because the evidence demonstrated that Booking.com sold more hotel-room nights worldwide than any other accommodation site we concluded that the claim had been substantiated.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Substantiation) and 3.38 3.38 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an unidentifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer. The elements of the comparison must not be selected to give the marketer an unrepresentative advantage. (Other comparisons) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.