Aldi rapped for "misleading" Champagne price comparison with Tesco

The advertising watchdog has rapped Aldi on the knuckles over an ad that compared its Veuve Monsigny Champagne to the Moët & Chandon on sale at Tesco.

The discounter ran a campaign showing products that could be bought in its stores for £32.54 and compared them to products retailing for a total of £61.56 at Tesco.

Yet its basket included its own-label Champagne and instead of comparing it with Tesco’s own-label counterpart it went for the branded Moët.

The ad ran in the build-up to Christmas 2018 and it also featured mince pies, party snacks and chocolate. It urged consumers to “Swap to Aldi and Save”, while further text read: “Save 45%”.

Tesco complained, arguing that this was an unfair comparison. At the time, Aldi was selling its Veuve Monsigny Champagne for £11.49, while Tesco had Moët at £28. The difference between the two bottles of bubbly accounted for 57% of the savings Aldi claimed shoppers could make by switching.

Yet Tesco has sold a number of Champagnes, from £14 to £40, over the past year and argued that it was unfair for Aldi to pick Moët, which sits towards the higher end.

Aldi hit back, claiming that its Veuve Monsigny was the second bestselling Champagne brand on the market, after Moët, making it a valid comparison.

It said its ad made clear that the Tesco goods were household brands, while the Aldi goods were Aldi brands, both in the creative and in the small print. It added that small print was industry-standard size for press ads of this nature and which consumers could read at their leisure.

Yet the Advertising Standards Authority ruled in Tesco’s favour and warned Aldi not to run ads like that in future.

It pointed out that the “Save 45%” claim was prominently displayed in a very large font and ruled that the small print was not enough to explain to consumers that “the savings claim referred to price differences offered by the two supermarkets more widely”.

“We considered that the ad was likely to give consumers the misleading impression that more of the savings in absolute terms were made up by the other products in the selection than was actually the case,” said the ASA. “Tesco also said they offered other, cheaper branded and own-brand Champagnes, which they believed would be more appropriate comparisons with the Aldi product.

“We acknowledged that it was permissible for marketers to compare branded with own-branded products, provided that the comparison was not misleading. The emphasis of the comparison in this ad was price rather than quality and it had been directed at price conscious Tesco customers.

“Furthermore, we considered Moët was a well-known brand that many consumers would associate with a very particular degree of luxury and status, irrespective of the quality or any other traits of the product. The Aldi product, and the cheaper Tesco products, were unlikely to have the same name recognition and associations for consumers as the Moët.

“We considered that the inclusion of the Moët product in the basket of goods skewed the comparison and was likely to mislead consumers.

“We did not consider that the statement in the small print that ‘Tesco may sell own brand products at different prices’ was sufficient to counteract the overall misleading impression given by the selection of products.

“In conclusion, the use of claims that were likely to be interpreted as general savings claims – ‘Swap to Aldi and save’, ‘Save 45%’ – and the relative prominence of those claims contributed to an overall impression that consumers would be able to make general savings at the stated level if they switched from Tesco to Aldi.

“Because we had not seen evidence that this was the case we considered the ad was likely to mislead on that basis. In addition, looking at the comparison of the prices of the two specific baskets in the ad, we considered that the inclusion of the Moët in the Tesco basket artificially skewed the comparison in Aldi’s favour and was likely to mislead consumers.”

It ruled that the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3

“We told Aldi to ensure that when making multi-product comparisons in future they did not imply that consumers could make more general savings if the claim was based only on a specific selection of goods, rather than a typical weekly shop,” said the ASA. “We also told them to ensure that their selection of comparator products did not mislead.”

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