Two TV ads for Lidl:
a. The first TV ad, seen in February 2017, featured an image of a packet of Cathedral City Mature Cheddar cheese with the price labelled £3.50. The image then switched to a packet of Valley Spire mature cheddar cheese, a loaf of bread, a six pack of small yoghurts, a packet of carrots and a cucumber. The voice-over stated, “You could get this creamy Cathedral City mature cheddar from Asda for £3.50 or you could get this creamy Valley Spire from Lidl plus a loaf of wholemeal bread and six mini fromage frais, oh and some fresh carrots and a whole cucumber … so that’s school lunches for a week all for £3.48 … Big on quality Lidl on price”. An image of a lunch box with a cheese sandwich, a pot of yoghurt and carrot and cucumber slices appeared with a label which featured the text “5 school lunches” and a price label for £3.48. On-screen text beneath the products stated “Subject to availability. Selected stores. NI may vary. Prices checked 13/02/17. Sources: asda.com and lidl.co.uk. Excludes offers”.
b. The second TV ad, seen in January 2017, featured an image of a pack of Young’s cod fillets with the price labelled at £4. The image then switched to a pack of Ocean Trader cod fillets, a bag of oven chips, a tin of mushy peas and a bottle of tomato ketchup. The voice-over stated, “You could get some Young’s msc breaded cod fillets from Asda for £4 or you could get some msc breaded cod fillets from Lidl, plus a bag of oven chips and some mushy peas, oh and some ketchup … so that’s fish and chips for four people all for £3.43 … Big on quality Lidl on price”. An image of a plate of fish and chips was featured with a label which stated “Serves four” and a price label for “£3.48”. On-screen text beneath the products stated “Subject to availability. Selected stores. NI may vary. Prices checked 09/01/17. Sources: asda.com and lidl.co.uk. Excludes offers”.
Asda challenged whether the comparisons in ads (a) and (b) were verifiable.
Lidl UK GmbH believed that at the time the ads were created, the information given in the small print of the ads were sufficient for consumers to be able to verify the price comparisons. They said the small print included both Lidl and ASDA websites as sources for the prices of the products shown and the date when the prices were checked. They said that information was included on the Lidl website on a page containing a static version of the ads. These showed the premium product, the total price for the Lidl products and the individual prices and sizes of the Lidl products in question, which could be clicked through from their home page and was live throughout the duration of the ads and for a short while after. They said the featured prices were the usual product prices and were not subject to any offers or changes during the time the ads were broadcast.
Clearcast stated they received a dated screen grab from the featured competitors’ websites as evidence of the competitors’ prices. They believed the small print provided all of the information that viewers needed to verify the claim, including where the prices could be checked (the retailer’s website), so viewers who wanted to check the comparative prices were directed to where they could be found. They believed that approach was in line with the ASA’s guidelines on verifiability.
The CAP Code required comparisons with identifiable competitors to be verifiable. That meant that an ad which featured a comparison with an identifiable competitor or competitors needed to include, or direct a consumer to, sufficient information to allow them to understand the comparison, and be able to check the claims were accurate.
Both ads compared the total price of a group of Lidl products against the price of a single branded product from Asda. We considered that consumers would need to access a breakdown of the prices for each Lidl item in order to fully understand the comparison made in both ads. The on-screen text in the ads provided the dates the prices were checked and stated that the “Source” of the prices were the Asda and Lidl websites and gave the URLs for the home pages. However, we did not consider that this made clear that the verification information for the comparison could be found on the Lidl website, and considered consumers would expect from the ads that to verify the prices they would need to search through the website for the individual product prices themselves. Whilst we considered that it was acceptable in this case for the verification information to be one click away from the home page, because it was clearly signposted from there, we did not consider the ads themselves signposted sufficiently clearly where the information could be found. We therefore concluded that the ads breached the Code.
The ads breached BCAP Code rule 3.35 3.35 Advertisements must objectively compare one or more material, relevant, verifiable and representative feature of those products or services, which may include price. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
We told Lidl UK GmbH to ensure that signposts to verification information within their ads were sufficiently clear.