Aldi’s ‘cheapest Christmas dinner’ claim was misleading, says advertising watchdog

By Staff

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an Aldi Christmas dinner ad after rival Sainsbury’s complained it was misleading to shoppers

Aldi’s claim of offering the “cheapest Christmas dinner” in a national press advert has been deemed misleading by a watchdog.

The four-page wrap-around newspaper ad, which was published on December 6, compared Aldi’s £33.80 christmas dinner to Sainsbury’s £44.81 one, suggesting customers could “Swap & Save over 20% on your Christmas dinner”. It also said that according to Which?, Aldi’s Christmas dinner was over 20% cheaper than Sainsbury’s.

However, Sainsbury’s lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), arguing that the price comparison wasn’t reflective of the prices when customers would be buying fresh produce for their Christmas dinner. Aldi defended its claims, stating they were based on a comparison by Which? featured in an article titled: “Which is the cheapest supermarket for Christmas dinner ingredients”.

Aldi also acknowledged that Which? had found only a 4p price difference between Aldi and Lidl, the second-cheapest supermarket, and had awarded Lidl a “Budget-friendly Christmas Dinner” award. Which? clarified to the ASA that they had no involvement in how Aldi presented their report in the ad.

The group explained that they use weight “ranges” in all their grocery pricing analysis because there’s usually little consistency in the weight of own-label groceries across supermarkets. These ranges are small, and Which? always reviews and sense checks them. The ASA stated that customers would think from the ad that buying the ingredients for a typical Christmas dinner at Aldi would be cheaper than any other British supermarket. So, they wouldn’t need to shop around.

The ASA also said that customers would understand that the price comparison was based on research by Which?, and that Which? had given Aldi an award for the “cheapest Christmas dinner”. Moreover, it pointed out that the ad’s text saying the overall comparison related to seven UK supermarkets, not all of them, was “so small that many readers would overlook it”.

The ASA also noticed that the Which? article mentioned that the Christmas dinner was only 4p cheaper at Aldi compared with Lidl. Because this difference was so small, Which? decided to get into the Christmas spirit by giving both discounters a festive food-pricing crown.

The ASA concluded: “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 ASA also found the ad misled consumers because the comparison related to price checks conducted 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.”

An Aldi spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed that the ASA has upheld this complaint based on an advertising technicality, but we remain confident that customers will make significant savings every time they shop with Aldi. That’s why we have been recognised by Which? as the UK’s Cheapest Supermarket for three years running.”

A Which? 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.”

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