A TV ad for Holland & Barrett viewed on 4 May 2011, featured Gethin Jones telling customers about half price savings on a range of products. On-screen text stated "Subject to availability. Offer ends 25/05/11". Gethin approached two women who were looking at Tan tablets and said "... at half price they're just £1.99." On-screen text stated "£3.99. £1.99", with the text "£3.99" crossed through. Gethin then approached a man who was holding Glucosamine Sulphate tablets and said "Only £9.99." On-screen text stated "Was £21.49. £9.99" with the text "£21.49" crossed through. Gethin then said "Here at Holland & Barrett, it's half price on your favourite buys." As he walked past a woman looking at a display of cod liver oil he said "Cod liver oil, Acai." A woman said "Omega 3" and Gethin said "Yeah. And that's just for starters." He then said "Half price on your favourite buys at Holland & Barrett. Expert advice and the right price; you won't get that anywhere else."
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, because when she visited Holland & Barrett she had found cod liver oil was not half price.
Holland & Barrett confirmed that the ad campaign was now finished and the ad was not scheduled to be shown again.
Clearcast said that at script approval stage they had requested substantiation for the sale prices from Holland & Barrett, including sales data confirming the favourite buys and that all of those products would be half price. They said that the information provided to them included cod liver oil and confirmed that it would be sold at all stores and online at half its normal price for the duration of the offer. Clearcast said that, in light of that information, they were content that the advertised sale was correct and they approved it for broadcast on that basis.
The ASA noted that the ad stated that it was "half price on your favourite buys" and considered that, because cod liver oil was specifically mentioned, consumers would be likely to interpret the ad to mean that cod liver oil was on sale at half the usual price. We acknowledged that Holland & Barrett had provided information to Clearcast which indicated that cod liver oil would be sold at half price for the duration of the sale, but noted that we had not seen evidence to substantiate that the product had been sold at half price.
Because we had seen no evidence to show that cod liver oil had been sold at half price during the sale, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Advertisements must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. 3.3.3 3.3.3 the price of the advertised product or service, including taxes, or, if the nature of the product or service is such that the price cannot be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is calculated (Misleading advertising), and 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Prices).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.