Asda's original Price Guarantee ads, which aired from April last year, have been smacked down by the Advertising Standards Authority for being misleading and untruthful.
And the retailer could face further run-ins with the watchdog over ads for its new 10% cheaper Price Guarantee launched this month, as Tesco lodged a fresh complaint with the ASA, The Grocer can reveal.
In an ASA ruling to be published next week, the watchdog said a TV ad and national press ad that ran in April last year broke rules on misleading advertising, evidence, guarantees and truthfulness.
The TV ad featured a woman walking into an Asda store as a voiceover said "shopping's changed", while the press ad featured products under the heading 'Don't waste money this bank holiday'.
Tesco and Morrisons claimed the ads were misleading as they suggested Asda was generally cheaper than Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury's and because many items were excluded from the guarantee.
The ASA agreed, ruling that the TV ad would lead shoppers to think Asda's savings claims applied to shopping generally rather than specific items. It ruled the press ad misleading as consumers might have thought the guarantee included non-grocery items.
The ASA added that Asda must ensure future ads did not "suggest their price guarantee applied to all items... or that savings claims referred to shopping generally."
"Asda has been found out here," said a Tesco spokesman. "The ASA has found it was in breach of the code on every substantive point of the complaint, including truthfulness, misleading advertising and evidence. And this was before [Asda] made its latest claims, which are even more ridiculous."
Matt Viner, an analyst at Verdict Research, said the ASA was a major blow for Asda's Price Guarantee: "I can see them having to go back to the drawing board. They will have to look at the wording and re-tweak it. But it's a key part of their strategy and I can't see them giving it up on the APG lightly."
Tesco described the 10% claim as "a cynical ploy to mislead customers using a flawed comparison". It said it has identified more than 10,000 SKUs that could not be included in the online comparison and submitted a complaint to the ASA on Monday. Tesco corporate and legal affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe added that the collective industry attack on the 10% Asda Price Guarantee represented "an outbreak of complaints on behalf of the consumer".
Asda has refused to comment until the full adjudication is published by the ASA on Wednesday.
Tesco in multi-pronged Asda attack over ‘misleading’ ploy (analysis; 22 January 2011)