Consumers are often looking for a great deal at this time of the year and with Black Friday around the corner and Christmas on its way, it’s important that advertisers ensure their promotional savings claims don’t mislead consumers.
By following these top tips, advertisers can ensure their ads comply with the Ad Rules not just during popular shopping times but all year round.
What’s the basis?
The basis of any savings claims should be clear and accurate. If advertisers wish to use a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) or a “was” price to demonstrate a potential saving, they should ensure the price represents a genuine, established usual selling price. The “was” price should have been available for a longer period of time than the promotional price and should generally be based on the most recent price available. When considering whether a reference price is likely to mislead, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) will take into account factors such as pricing history and sales data.
For example, in a case concerning Sports Direct, the complainant challenged whether an online ad for a pair of walking boots, reduced from £84.99 to £37.00, was misleading as the complainant purchased the boots in-store which had both a different reference and purchase price. Although the ASA noted that the price of £84.99 was intended to relate to the RRP of the product, there was nothing in the ad to indicate this was the case and as the ASA had not seen any evidence to demonstrate that the usual selling price of the boots was £84.99, the ad was deemed to be misleading.
“Up to” and “from”
Advertisers should ensure any “from” or “up to” savings claims represent the true overall picture of the promotion and do not exaggerate any potential savings or the availability of a product at a specific price. A significant proportion of included products should be discounted at the maximum saving or at the lowest price, with a roughly equal distribution of products across different price ranges.
Indeed, an ad by Eurostar International which stated that tickets from London to Paris were available “From as little as £29 o/w*” was understood by the complainant to be misleading as they were unable to find tickets available at that price. The ASA understood the £29 fares were released on an on-going basis, and were made available for a period between six and 18 weeks in advance of travel dates. However, the ASA considered a significant proportion of tickets were not available at the “from” price and, as there was no information to inform consumers that the tickets were not reasonably evenly distributed throughout the booking period, the ad was found to be misleading.
“Everything” means everything
Using a savings claim such as “50% off everything” is likely to be acceptable if the promotion applies to all products. This wasn’t the case for an ad by Mountain Warehouse which stated “UP TO 50% OFF EVERYTHING!”. The ASA deemed the ad to be misleading because not all products were reduced. Indeed, if there are any exclusions that apply, a savings claim which states it applies to “all” products or “everything” is likely to be misleading, even if those exclusions are stated in the ad. This is because any exclusions are likely to contradict the headline claim, rather than clarify it.
Promotional savings claims can generate interest among consumers and by following the Ad Rules, advertisers can ensure their ads do so for the right reasons.
Source: Committee of Advertising Practice.
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