The Daily Mail has been censored by the ad watchdog over a bungled promotion with Iceland Foods which promised readers a free “giant jar of Marmite” only to see many stores run out of stock, while others had none in the first place.
The one-day offer, which was flagged up on the front page of the Daily Mail, just so happened to coincide with so-called Marmite-gate, when a row between Tesco and Unilever led to widespread panic buying.
It triggered seven complainants to the Advertising Standards Authority from disgruntled readers who were forced to leave Iceland stores empy-handed. They challenged whether the promotion breached the code.
In response, DMG Media – which publishes the Mail – claimed that it had taken steps to include sufficient and clear information in the ad with regards to stock availability, insisting that the phrase “while stocks last” had been highly visible on all promotional literature.
Iceland Foods stated it had in stock approximately 10,000 500g jars of Marmite, of which 6,479 jars were redeemed under the promotion. However, as Iceland had limited stock in some stores, it was not capable of meeting the possible demand at every store.
The ASA, however, was having none of it and accused the newspaper of failing to provide any documentary evidence to support its claim that it had conducted a “reasonable estimate” of likely demand. It added that the Daily Mail had also failed to account for the increase demand for the brand due to the Tesco bust-up.
Banning the promotion and warning both companies about future activity, the ASA said: “We understood that some of the complainants were informed by their local stores that they had around ten jars in stock. Some complainants had found or understood that some stores had fewer than ten in stock or none at all. It appeared from the information available that Iceland was not capable of meeting the likely demand for the product.”
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