Tesco has been criticised by the UK's advertising watchdog for its "misleading" use of price comparison adverts.

In a stinging attack, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said today (29 July) that the national TV and print adverts were "ambiguous" and "misleading".

"We considered they did not give consumers enough information to be able to make an informed choice about whether or not the comparison was useful for them, and the ads were therefore misleading," the ASA said.
 
The television advert comparing "real baskets" at Tesco and rival Asda failed to clarify differences between products or the basis of the comparison, the ASA said.

Moreover, according to the watchdog, the exclusion of a number of items in each basket made it "impossible" to determine the accuracy of the overall claim that baskets purchased at Tesco were cheaper.

However, a spokesperson for Tesco said that the group was "reassured" that the ASA found nothing "fundamentally wrong" with the substance of Tesco's message.

"More of our customers' matched baskets are cheaper at Tesco than they would have been at Asda," the spokesperson insisted.

The complaints, which came from Aldi, Asda and members of the public, were partially upheld and the ASA ruled that the adverts should not appear again in their current form.

Asda welcomed the news, stating: "The ASA ruling proves what we've known all along, Tesco's 'real baskets' aren't so real after all. Shoppers haven't been taken in by their claims either - a million more customers flocking to Asda in the last year shows they know who's really got the lowest prices."