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ASA bans Lidl’s ‘misleading’ Tesco comparison ads

The watchdog had not seen evidence that Lidl’s claims of the general level of savings could ‘ordinarily be achieved’

Two Lidl adverts showing how customers can make big savings at the supermarket compared to Tesco have been banned following a complaint from rival discounter Aldi.

The two adverts in question ran in Scotland and claimed that customers can save over 35% and over 30% respectively at Lidl, compared to Tesco, which the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said were “likely to mislead”.

The watchdog said it had not seen evidence that the general level of savings could “ordinarily be achieved” and the adverts didn’t make it clear that the savings were related only to the specific selection of products shown.

In response, Lidl said it did not intend to make a general savings claim against Tesco within this specific copy. It said the goods depicted in the ads had been chosen for their Scottish links, and that these ads “should be contrasted” with the approach taken with Lidl’s general price positioning ads at the time which “did not use specific percentage claims and were based on separate data or substantiation”.

It added the claims that Lidl was cheaper than Tesco generally, and it did not believe that the average consumer could reasonably reach that conclusion when reading the ads in context.

However, the ASA said given the prominence of the claims “Save over 35% at Lidl”/”Save over 30% at Lidl” and the accompanying claims “At Lidl you can save a lot” and “Always Lidl on price”, it did not consider that the ads made sufficiently clear that the 30%/35% savings related only to the specific selection of products shown.

It continued that it considered consumers in Scotland would be likely to understand the savings referred to price differences offered by the two supermarkets more widely, rather than being specific only to the example basket of goods, and that the same level of savings could be achieved more generally in a typical weekly shop. Because the ASA had not seen evidence that this general level of savings could ordinarily be achieved, it considered the ads “were likely to mislead”.

The ASA said the ads must not appear again in the form complained of and the watchdog told Lidl to “ensure their advertising made sufficiently clear where savings claims, including percentage savings claims, were limited to a specific comparison”.

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