Misleading Christmas advertising is Snow laughing matter!
Christmas is a time when children and adults alike are hopefully enjoying the festivities, and it is important for advertisers to ensure their pricing and promotions are clear and accurate to avoid disappointing consumers. From including all significant conditions in ads, to ensuring savings are not exaggerated, there are some important things to bear in mind to ensure you stick to the Ad Rules.
Here are some pointers on how to avoid being on the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) naughty list this Christmas.
Promotions and savings
As with all promotional marketing, Christmas and Boxing Day sales/promotions must include important terms and conditions in ads, which the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code considers are significant.
It’s also important not to exaggerate the savings available when making “up to” claims and to ensure that consumers are provided with information about the discount available on specific products e.g. on the relevant product pages. Eurocar’s “Our Biggest Ever CHRISTMAS SALE” was banned by the ASA, because the claim “UP TO 69% OFF” exaggerated the savings available and the discount was against outdated prices.
Promotions must always be administered fairly and marketers should not use time-limited promotions in a way that is likely to mislead consumers. PrettyLittleThing’s use of “HURRY” along with a countdown clock was found to be misleading as it indicated a time-limited offer, which implied that the consumer would be getting a savings benefit compared to the usual cost of next day delivery – which was not the case.
Marketers must ensure they make a reasonable estimate of the likely response to their promotions, especially during this busy period of the year, and should be able to demonstrate that they have done so. They must also show they could either meet that response or that consumers were given appropriate information regarding availability to decide whether to participate. A Lidl UK ad that stated “subject to availability” was judged to be insufficient and not enough to relieve promoters of their obligations to avoid disappointing consumers.
Sometimes levels of demand end up higher than expected, but in these scenarios, advertisers are still expected to ensure timely communication with consumers and in the case of detriment, offer a refund or reasonable substitute.
Delivery costs are often considered material information that will affect a consumer’s decision as to whether to purchase the product. So, if you’re stating prices for advertised products, and it would otherwise be misleading to omit it, then you should state any delivery and shipping charges.
Marketers should also bear in mind disruptions and delays for delivery and take care with delivery-time claims, especially if consumers are likely to be expecting delivery in time for Christmas.
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