A LIDL advert has been banned by the advertising watchdog for potentially misleading consumers over the savings they could make compared to shopping in Tesco.
The advert, which ran in the Belfast Telegraph in January, appeared to show that families could save £46 by buying their groceries in Lidl rather than going to its rival supermarket.
It featured two different supermarket trolleys filled with products, one of which read “Lidl £67” and the other read “Tesco £113”.
But Tesco said the advert compared branded food and household groceries it sold, such as Weetabix and Evian, with similar own-brand Lidl items – even when Lidl sold the same branded goods.
This could mislead customers, it said.
Tesco also said it was not clear whether the price comparisons were up to date as they had been compiled two weeks before the ad was published.
Lidl Northern Ireland argued that the ad compared products with the same purpose and which met the same need, and that it had included some Tesco own-brand products in the trolley.
It also said that it had published a web address that would show customers the cost of each product in detail, and had taken care to make sure prices were up to date.
What does the Advertising Standards Agency do?
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent advertising regulator.
- It makes sure ads across UK media, including newspapers, television and radio, stick to the advertising rules
- It responds to complaints made by shoppers and businesses
- It also monitors adverts itself, to check they are complying
- It has the power to ban ads which are misleading, harmful, offensive or irresponsible
- In 2018, it dealt with 33,727 complaints relating to more than 25,000 ads, and took on 27,014 extra cases which it discovered itself
- As a result, 10,850 ads were either changed or removed last year – 53 per cent more than in the previous year
- It is independent of the government and funded by the advertising industry, meaning it does not cost taxpayers anything
However, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) upheld Tesco’s complaint against the discount retailer and has banned the advert.
The ASA said that shoppers would expect similar products to be compared because the advert promised it was showing “the same shop”.
It found that while retailers are allowed to compare branded and unbranded products, it must be made clear.
Lidl’s ad made no reference to the type of groceries it was comparing.
The ASA also upheld Tesco’s complaint about the time between the prices being compared, on January 2, and the advert appearing, two weeks later.
Lidl had not made any attempt to “re-validate” the prices, it said, and the ad did not state when the comparison had been carried out.
Lidl said: “We are disappointed with the ASA’s findings as we always try to be transparent with our customers. We ran a marketing campaign in good faith which compared prices between ourselves and our competitors, in this case Tesco."
It added that although it was disappointed, it fully respected the ASA's decision.
In June, the ASA banned adverts which showed old fashioned and "harmful" gender stereotypes, such as women doing cleaning or childcare roles while men take on professional jobs.
And payday lender Peachy.co.uk was slammed after it used an advert to encourage people to stockpile food for Brexit using loans.
Other adverts have been banned for encouraging bad behaviour, such as a KFC one which showed a woman dancing on the edge of a roof.
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