ASA Hands Down Latest Rulings On Misleading Advert

Rulings Stress The Importance Of Not Falling Foul Of The ASA Codes Of Practice

09.03.2015

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

Halfords and several leading retailers are amongst the latest companies to receive rulings against them from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following complaints about misleading advertising.

In relation to national retailer, Halfords, the complaint related to how it advertised children’s bikes on its website.

The advert claimed the bike’s price of £99 represented a saving of £100 as it had been offered at the full price in 50 of the retailer’s 464 stores during August.
The challenge that this was misleading and could not be substantiated was upheld by ASA.

ASA said: “We noted Halfords' belief that the ad complied with the BIS Pricing Practices Guide. However, in the context of a website from which consumers could purchase the bike, we considered consumers were likely to understand the higher price, presented prominently at the top of the ad, was the normal selling price available via the website and that the saving represented a saving against that higher price.

“In the absence of evidence to demonstrate that the higher reference price of £199.99 was the normal selling price available via the website, we considered the savings claim was likely to mislead consumers.”

Sarah Riding, Commercial Partner at Irwin Mitchell, said:

Expert Opinion
These recent adjudications stress the need for businesses to ensure that their marketing campaigns do not fall foul of the ASA codes of practice as it can lead to adverse publicity.

“The Halfords advert highlights the requirements for savings claims within the advertising codes of practice. Halfords believed they had complied with the code by referring to the basis of the comparison and the proportion of stores that had charged the higher price. The ASA concluded that as the price was listed on a website then consumers would be misled into believing that the quoted higher price was the usual online selling price. This demonstrates the need for marketing teams to consider the context and medium of the specific campaign.

“We work with lots of businesses to help them push the boundaries of their marketing campaigns whilst remaining within the requirements of the Codes of Practice. The principle for marketing communications under the Code is that they should be legal, decent, honest and truthful. All marketing communications should be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society and should reflect the spirit, not merely the letter, of the Code.”
Sarah Riding, Partner