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Aldi’s ‘cheapest Christmas dinner’ ad misled shoppers, says watchdog

Aldi’s claim it was the “home of Britain’s cheapest Christmas dinner” was found to be misleading after rival supermarket Sainsbury’s reported it to the advertising watchdog.

It claimed consumer group Which? had found Aldi’s Christmas dinner came in at over 20% cheaper than what was on offer at Sainsbury’s.

The four-page wrap-around newspaper ad, published on 6 December, also read “Sainsbury’s £44.81”, “Aldi £33.80” and “Swap & Save over 20% on your Christmas dinner”.

Small text at the bottom of the ad said the comparison related to “seven UK supermarkets”.

But Sainsbury’s complained the advert was misleading, and the price comparison was not representative of prices during the period when people would be buying fresh produce for their festive dinner – usually in the last week or so before Christmas Day.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld the complaint.

Aldi said the claims in the ad were from a comparison by Which? detailed in an article on the consumer group’s website, titled: “Which is the cheapest supermarket for Christmas dinner ingredients?”

But the ASA said the ad would lead shoppers to believe the total cost of buying the ingredients at Aldi for a typical Christmas dinner would be cheaper than in any other British supermarket, so there would be no reason to shop around.

The front page of the four-page wrap-around ad. Pic: Advertising Standards Authority via PA
Image: The front page of the four-page wrap-around ad. Pic: Advertising Standards Authority via PA

The watchdog also said the Which? article stated Aldi’s Christmas dinner was only 4p cheaper than Lidl’s, and that “as this difference was negligible, Which? decided to embrace the Christmas spirit by giving both of the discounters a festive food-pricing crown”.

It said: “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 watchdog also found the ad misled shoppers because the comparison related to price checks between 6 and 27 November, 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.”

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Which? told the ASA that it was not involved in how Aldi presented the report in their advertising.

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.”

Sky News Source