Marks & Spencer has been rebuked by the advertising watchdog for “misleading” adverts that claimed shoppers could buy their Christmas dinner in December 2017 for £10 less than in 2016.
In a print advert last December, M&S claimed that its Christmas dinners were “£10 cheaper than 2016” and that it was “the only supermarket where Christmas dinner cost less than last year”.
However, two shoppers complained that the advert did not make it clear that a fresh turkey had been replaced by a frozen turkey and that a high-end Christmas cake had been swapped for a cheaper alternative.
Only in the small print at the bottom of the ad did M&S explain that the Christmas dinner for eight people included a frozen turkey instead of a fresh turkey and a classic Christmas cake instead of its more expensive Collection cake and that its claims were based on a Good Housekeeping Survey (GHI) of the top 10 supermarkets.
In response, M&S said that the results of the GHI survey indicated that the price of an average basket for Christmas dinner at M&S was less in 2017 than it had been in 2016. It added that the survey specifically asked for a frozen turkey in 2017, while a fresh one was not available the previous year.
However, the ASA upheld both complaints, saying that consumers would interpret the claim; “We’re £10 cheaper than 2016” to mean that they could buy the same type and quality of dinner as in 2016 for £10 less.
The watchdog also ruled that M&S “did not provide any comparative evidence” with other supermarkets when it came to its claim that it was the only supermarket where Christmas dinner cost less than in 2016.
A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer says: “We’re disappointed by the ruling – we made it clear it was a Good Housekeeping survey, we followed its criteria to the letter and we believe we made the differences between the 2016 and 2017 baskets clear. Regardless, we will, of course, abide by the ruling.”