Ad description

A TV ad in the style of a home video featured a woman and her three children recording a video message for their father serving with the armed forces. On-screen text appeared at the foot of the screen which read "You can Live Well for Less than you thought at Sainsbury's. Based on price perception data August 2013. For more information go to". Text in the final shot stated "Sainbury's Live Well for Less".


Three viewers, who had seen the ad on ITV1, Sky Atlantic and Challenge, challenged whether the on-screen text was legible.


J Sainsbury plc (Sainsbury's) said that text height, font, duration of hold, legibility against the background, position on screen and comprehension were checked by their agency before the ad was sent to Clearcast. While they believed the minimum pixel height for superimposed text was 16, the text in the ad had a height of 20. They said when the final film was created it was rendered to high definition (HD) quality and complied with the requirement of a height of 26 for superimposed text for HD. They said Clearcast would also have taken into account line height, accounting for standard definition and HD formats, when they approved the ad. They said the font used was simple and without serifs, that it appeared in white on a black background, which made the text even more legible, and that the duration of hold was in line with the industry standard. They believed the ad did not breach the Code but said the format of the text was a one-off and would not be repeated.

Clearcast said the height of the text and the duration for which it appeared were greater than required. They said the superimposed text had passed their legibility test.



The ASA understood the superimposed text was intended to qualify the text "Sainbury's Live Well for Less", which appeared at the end of the ad. We acknowledged that the white text on a black background did not make it difficult to read. We also noted the duration of hold was sufficient and that the font had a plain style. We considered its size did not appear to be problematic.

However, we noted the Code required that qualifying information be presented clearly, with the aim being to achieve a standard of legibility that would enable an interested viewer, who made some positive effort, to read all text. We considered the letters were narrow and that the text appeared condensed. We considered consumers viewing the ad on TV were therefore unlikely to be able to read it without seeing it on more than one occasion. Because the qualification, which provided material information related to the claim "Live Well for Less", was not presented sufficiently clearly, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached BCAP Code rules  3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  and  3.2 3.2 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.
 (Misleading advertising) and  3.11 3.11 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
BCAP has published Guidance on Superimposed Text to help television broadcasters ensure compliance with rule  3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  . The guidance is available at:


The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Sainsbury's to ensure future qualifications were presented clearly to ensure their ads were not misleading.


3.1     3.11     3.2    

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