A TV ad for Currys/PCWorld, seen on 7 January 2018, advertising a sale. The ad featured a man in a Currys/PCWorld uniform who said, “Sale now on at Currys/PCWorld. Get our lowest ever price on these Fitbits, just £99. How's that for motivation?”. An image of Fitbits in various colours was shown alongside a red box with large text in it stating “Fitbit Charge 2 £99 Save £20”. Small on-screen text at the bottom of the screen stated “Was £119 from 02/09-07/11”.
The complainant, who believed the product was available at £89.99 in the January sale, challenged whether the claim “our lowest ever price on these Fitbits, just £99” was misleading and could be substantiated.
DSG Retail Ltd t/a Currys/PCWorld said the ad was aired from 3 to 7 January 2018 and featured a Fitbit Charge 2 for the promoted price of £99.99 which was, at the time of production, the lowest price charged. They said that while it was their intention at the time of production to price the product at £99.99, due to competitors reducing their own prices, they reduced the price further to £89.99 on 3 January 2018. That price reduction did not precede the advertising campaign. Currys/PCWorld said that while there was a discrepancy between their advertised and selling prices between 3 and 7 January 2018, consumers did not suffer any detriment as the price change was in their favour.
Currys/PCWorld also said that their use of £119 in the ad as a ‘was’ price was valid, given that the product was priced at £119.99 for 67 days from 2 September to 7 November 2017. They also provided their pricing history for the product from 31 August 2016 when it was first sold, which indicated that the product had not been priced lower than £99.99 prior to 3 January 2018. The Fitbit Charge 2 was priced at £119.99 from 2 September to 7 November 2017 and then fluctuated between £109.99 and £99.99 for 56 days until 2 January 2018, after which it was priced at £89.99 for 15 days from 3 January 2018.
Clearcast said they had asked Currys/PCWorld for confirmation of the Fitbit’s price at the time of the sale (£99.99), the saving (£20), and also the previous pricing history. Currys/PCWorld provided the product’s pricing history as outlined above, and Clearcast said they were content with the information received, as Currys/PCWorld had ensured the product was at their “lowest ever price”.
Clearcast said that after their approval of the ad Currys/PCWorld had further reduced the price to £89.99, and there had been sufficient time to amend the ad to refer to that lower price. However, £89.99 was still the advertiser’s lowest price, in line with the claim “our lowest ever price”, and the ad did not make any comparative price claims with identifiable competitors. With that in mind, they considered that consumers would not have been disappointed with a price change to £89.99 because it was in the consumer’s favour.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claim “our lowest ever price on these Fitbits, just £99” to mean that the product was available for £99, and that was the lowest price at which it had ever been sold by Currys/PCWorld. We considered they would also understand that the product had previously been sold at £119, as the ad stated “Was £119 from 02/09-07/11”.
The price of the product was lowered to £89.99 on 3 January 2018, the first day the ad was aired, and therefore the price claim of “£99” was technically inaccurate at the time the ad was seen by the complainant. However, given that £89.99 was the lowest price at which the product had been sold by the advertiser, and that price was lower than the advertised price, we considered that the inaccurate price statement was not likely to have caused consumers to take a transactional decision that they would not have otherwise taken. For that reason, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. 2). (Misleading advertising), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.18 3.18 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product or service depicted in the advertisement. (Prices), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.