A TV ad for a fried chicken meal. The voice-over stated "The new KFC Family Burger Box - a choice of four fillet or zinger burgers, large popcorn chicken and fries. Feed the family and save a fiver - just £14.99". On-screen text stated "Item shown £20.51 if bought individually. Prices may vary".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was misleading, because she had not been able to purchase the product for the stated price.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Ltd said that the on-screen text, the "prices may vary" referred to both the a la carte menu pricing of individual items, the price of the Family Burger Box and the exact saving made between those two prices. They said that usually when they quoted a price, the on-screen text stated "price may vary", but as there was more than one price mentioned in the ad, they referred to "prices" to be clear that this referred to all prices quoted in the ad. They therefore felt the on-screen text made clear that the prices quoted in the ad could vary depending on the store visited.
Kentucky Fried Chicken explained that prices varied between stores as they were legally unable to fix the pricing within all the franchisee stores, and could only recommend pricing. They said the number of restaurants that sold the Family Burger Box product at a higher price was a substantial minority within the Kentucky Fried Chicken UK store estate; approximately 15 stores out of 850 stores nationally. They kept a record of the price range on the Family Burger Box within their system (£14.99‒£16.99), and said the adjusted individual menu prices meant that the saving was always over £5, as per the claim in the ad.
Clearcast fully endorsed Kentucky Fried Chicken’s response. They were aware of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s pricing system and requested that any of their ads that featured prices included the text "price may vary". They pointed out that this guidance had been in place for over six years, without complaint from viewers.
The ASA was satisfied that most Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants sold the Family Burger Box at the price quoted in the ad, and that the saving in all stores was over £5. We acknowledged Clearcast and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s point that they had used the plural in the on-screen text "prices may vary" in order to indicate that this referred to all prices quoted in the ad. However, we noted that the ad did not explicitly state whether "prices may vary" referred to the items totalling £20.51, the Family Burger Box price of £14.99, or both. We also noted that the text stating "Item shown £20.51 if bought individually" and "prices may vary" appeared on-screen at the same time, and considered that this could lead viewers to believe that "prices may vary" referred only to the items totalling £20.51. We concluded that it was not sufficiently clear that "prices may vary" referred to all prices quoted in the ad.
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. (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).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Kentucky Fried Chicken to ensure that in future they made clear when their prices varied.