Sainsbury’s has launched an ad campaign promising to protect customers’ right to a fair comparison after the Advertising Standards Authority threw out the retailer’s complaint over Tesco’s Price Promise.
The first two ads in the campaign feature the differences between bananas and ham sold at Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
The text for the banana ad reads: “Now that most of the big supermarkets claim to be matching prices, you might be forgiven for thinking there’s no real difference between them. But take the two loose bananas above. One’s from Sainsbury’s. It’s Fairtrade – which means a fair deal for the producers, irrespective of market forces.
“The other’s from Tesco. It isn’t. They cost exactly the same. But that’s where the similarity ends.”
“We understand the ASA has not upheld our challenge but we think customers would not agree with Tesco’s position that provenance and ethics play little or no part in customers’ buying decisions”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman added: “We understand the ASA has not upheld our challenge but we think customers would not agree with Tesco’s position that provenance and ethics play little or no part in customers’ buying decisions.”
The ASA said the code required advertisers to compare goods which met the same need or intended purpose and that it “considered the same need test had been met” because “food such as meat, eggs, or fish were interchangeable”.
It added that although there would be differences in animal welfare and country of origin, “we were satisfied that Tesco had taken those elements into account when identifying and matching products”.
On the quality of products, it added: “The small print stated that products may be excluded from the comparison on the grounds of quality and Tesco provided examples of products which had been excluded for that reason.”
Sainsbury’s ad campaign comes just days after its commercial director Mike Coupe wrote a hard-hitting blog on the retailer’s website slamming Tesco Price Promise scheme.
“By failing to compare own brands fairly it is taking power away from customers to make accurate and informed choices about the food they put in their baskets. Worse, it undermines their ability to make a choice based on the values they believe in,” he said.
Tesco defended its Price Promise scheme in a blog post published by UK marketing director David Wood today. “A massive amount of work goes into making the comparisons, down to the quality of the individual ingredients, to make sure we make common-sense comparisons customers would see as fair and meaningful,” Wood wrote. “The origin of a product can be important and where it is, for example Melton Mowbray pies, we compare by origin too. Where it isn’t a key factor for customers, we don’t let it stand in the way of making a common-sense comparison.
“Price Promise is transformative. Crucially the group which really does “get it” straight away is customers. It takes a huge weight and worry from their shoulders: am I getting the best deal on my weekly shop? The key measure of how we compete on price is called price perception, and ours improved and kept improving ever since we started Price Promise.”