A TV ad for a supermarket offered a discount on sirloin steak. A voice-over stated, "Make Valentine's Day special with a fresh, succulent, half-price sirloin steak, dusted with cupid seasoning. Valentine's, let's make it special, at Morrison's". On-screen text stated, "HALF PRICE £18/kg £9/kg". Smaller text on the screen stated, "Higher price 30th Jan - 5th Feb. Excludes Morrisons Local. Maximum 3. Ends 15th Feb".
The complainant challenged whether the savings claim was misleading, because they did not believe that the on-screen text explaining when the higher price was offered was clear, nor did they believe that it had been offered at the higher price for a sufficient period of time to avoid consumers being misled.
Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (Morrisons) said the 'Seasoned Valentine's Sirloin Steak' offer was genuine. They said the higher price of £18/kg was comparable with the price at which their competitors generally sold unseasoned sirloin steak. They also pointed out that their steak was enhanced by a special seasoning, which they said validated the value further. Morrisons believed that the offer was industry leading and represented a 50% saving against market prices and their own previous price.
They confirmed that the steak was on sale at the higher price from 30 January to 5 February, immediately prior to the promotion, and again from 15 February onwards, immediately after the offer ended. They also said that the product was sold at the higher price for longer than it was on offer, taking the time before and after the promotion together. They submitted sales information in support of this showing units sold before, during and after the promotion. They said the product was still great value at the higher price and had continued to sell in large quantities.
Morrisons said that their customers tended to shop at least once a week and that many also did more frequent shops for fresh food. They therefore believed that customers would have had plenty of time to purchase the steak at the higher price and said that plenty of customers did so. They referred to the sales information provided in support of this. Because the product sold in significant quantities before and after the promotion at the higher price, they believed the higher price was genuine and had been established.
Morrisons also believed that the on-screen information about the higher price was clear and legible, despite the time restrictions of a short ad. They said they had not been informed of any other complaints about the ad.
Clearcast believed that the ad was clear in terms of how and when the product was available at the higher price. They said the ad was in keeping with industry best practice as outlined in the Pricing Practices Guide document from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). They said that, in line with paragraph 1.2.4 of the Guide, the ad set out when the higher price was on offer. Clearcast believed that the higher price of the product was established.
The ASA noted the complainant challenged whether the on-screen text, regarding the higher price of the product and when it was available, was clear and legible. We considered that, although the ad was short in terms of time, the text was of a sufficient size and displayed for enough time to ensure that it was sufficiently clear.
We noted the BIS Pricing Practices Guide was not binding on traders, the Courts or the ASA, but was to be taken into account, as the BCAP Code made clear. We noted the Guide recommended that a price used as a basis for a comparison should be the most recent price available for 28 days or more. We acknowledged that this need not always be the case and that if a comparison used in an ad differed from this advice the basis of the comparison should be made clear. We noted that the seasoned Valentine's sirloin steak was a new product, not available before 30 January. We also noted that it was available immediately prior to the offer but for only seven days, from 30 January to 5 February. However, we considered that this was made clear via the on-screen text. We also considered that the sales figures submitted by Morrison's demonstrated that the product had sold in significant quantities at the higher price before the promotion. Although the higher price was only available for seven days prior to the promotion, we considered that this provided enough time for the average consumer to become aware of the offer and complete purchase. For these reasons we considered the higher price was genuine, and therefore concluded that the ad had not misled.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 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) and 3.39 3.39 Advertisements that include a price comparison must make the basis of the comparison clear. (Price comparisons) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.