ASA ruling shows Big Four taking discounters seriously

ASA ruling shows Big Four taking discounters seriously

The UK ad watchdog's order for Aldi to pull a TV advert demonstrates how the discounter will need to be precise in its competitive claims - and how the German giant is being more closely monitored than ever before by the country's rattled major grocers.

Aldi has been told to pull a TV ad in the UK after rival Asda argued the spot misled consumers.

The UK's Advertising Watchdog upheld five complaints from Asda about Aldi's "Swap and Save" campaign. The push encouraged consumers to shop at the discounter and compare its prices with those at their regular store - but Asda, one of the UK multiples that has seen sales by the rising popularity of the likes of Aldi and Lidl, said the ad had misinformed viewers.

Aldi defended the spot and was backed by Clearcast - the broadcaster-backed body that clears ads in the UK. However, the ASA ruled the advert breached rules.

The discounter said it was "disappointed" with the ruling but the ASA's verdict is telling.

Aldi has made significant inroads in the UK in recent years, eating into the sales of most of the UK's major chains.

The likes of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons are fighting back, pledging a wave of investment in prices.

Aldi, no doubt prepared for such an onslaught, decided with this campaign (which ran last autumn), to try to highlight what it sees as its key point of difference to its larger rivals.

However, even if Aldi disagrees with the ASA's decision, the sheer fact its ad was ruled misleading demonstrates the minefield creating comparative ad campaigns cane be.

And, most notably, Asda's complaints shows the attention the UK's major grocers are placing on the discounters. Some have tried to play down the inroads the likes of Aldi have made by claiming the discounters' share of the market is still below that seen in previous periods.

However, it is clear - both by the sharpening of pricing pencils by most of the Big Four - and this advertising episode how seriously the multiples are taking the discounters.

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