Kevin gets the chop as ASA slices up Aldi price claims

aldi xmas 2023Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot ad might have reached the dizzy heights of Christmas Number One again last year but the discount supermarket and its seemingly irresistible root vegetable character have been chopped down to size by the ad watchdog after being hauled up over misleading price claims.

While the festive season is a distant memory for most, the wheels of ad regulation turn slowly, with the issue sparked by a wrap-around four-page national press ad for Aldi published in early December. On the front page it featured an image of Kevin alongside a whole roast turkey, vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, stuffing and gravy and stated: “The Home of Britain’s Cheapest Christmas Dinner, Why Go Anywhere Else?”

Further text in a roundel stated “Reviewed by Which? Budget-friendly Christmas Dinner” and text in a box underneath stated “2022 Price Locked”. Small text at the bottom of the page stated “Which? checked the prices of 12 traditional Christmas dinner staples between 6 and 27 November at seven UK supermarkets and found Aldi to be a budget-friendly supermarket for a Christmas dinner shop.”

Small text at the bottom of the ad said the comparison related to “seven UK supermarkets” but it was Sainsbury’s that took the most umbrage after the text stated that, “according to results published by Which?, Aldi’s Christmas dinner came in at over 20% cheaper than Sainsbury’s”.

In fact, Sainsbury’s bosses were so miffed they rifled off a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. They argued that the price comparison was not representative of prices during the period when people would be buying fresh produce for their festive dinner – usually in the last week or so before Christmas Day – and was therefore misleading.

aldi xmasIn its defence, Aldi referred to a detailed article on the Which? website, titled: “Which is the cheapest supermarket for Christmas dinner ingredients?” but did not provide its own evidence.

Aldi did admit that some of the products featured in the ad were not included in the Which? Comparison but said that the featured products were representative only and consumers could easily see which items had been compared by Which? article.

However, the ASA was not so easily won over, insisting the ad would lead shoppers to believe the total cost of buying the ingredients at Aldi for a typical Christmas dinner would be cheaper than in any other British supermarket, so there would be no reason to shop around.

The watchdog also said the Which? article stated Aldi’s Christmas dinner was only 4p cheaper than Lidl’s, and that “as this difference was negligible, Which? decided to embrace the Christmas spirit by giving both of the discounters a festive food-pricing crown”.

It said: “Which? therefore had not awarded Aldi as the ‘cheapest Christmas dinner’ as implied by the overall presentation of the ad, but as a ‘budget-friendly Christmas Dinner’.

“While Aldi was technically the cheapest, this was by a negligible amount, and we considered that it was information that was likely to influence consumers’ understanding of the claim and any transactional decision they might make because of it, since their choice of which supermarket to visit would also be impacted by other factors such as their relative distances or transport costs.

“We therefore considered the ad was misleading about the basis of the comparison in those regards.”

The watchdog also found the ad misled shoppers because the comparison related to price checks between November 6 and 27 , which were likely to have changed by the time shoppers would be buying their Christmas dinner.

The ASA said: “We told Aldi to ensure that price comparisons with their competitors were not misleading, and that the basis of such comparisons was clear and adequately substantiated.”

Which? was not too chuffed either. A spokesman said: “We support this decision by the ASA: consumers should not be subjected to potentially misleading advertising and it is right that the regulator is holding Aldi to account.

“We are disappointed that a Which? endorsement logo and our research was used in an advert that has broken the regulator’s rules on marketing and we have sought assurances from Aldi that it will not happen again.”

However, this is not the first time Aldi has been found to run misleading price comparison ads. In July 2019, the supermarket was censured by the ASA for claiming that a stack of its own home products was far cheaper than “similar” brands at Tesco in the run-up to Christmas 2018.

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