| LONDON, July 31
LONDON, July 31 Britain's advertising watchdog
ruled in favour of supermarket leader Tesco in a spat
over price comparisons with third-largest J Sainsbury,
which reacted by launching a campaign to emphasize product
Britain's supermarkets, despite their focus on essential
goods, are battling intensely for market share as the economy
has been sluggish. Advertising is a major battleground.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday
it had decided not to uphold Sainsbury's challenge to Tesco's
"Price Promise" campaign.
Tesco launched "Price Promise" in March, comparing the
overall cost of a basket of its branded, own-label and fresh
food against the same or equivalent products from Sainsbury's,
Britain's second-largest grocer Wal-Mart's Asda and
fourth-largest Wm Morrison.
If the comparison shows the basket would have been cheaper
at a competitor, Tesco automatically issues a coupon for the
difference up to 10 pounds ($15.40) when customers receive their
Sainsbury's alleged that Tesco's advertised claim that "You
won't lose out on big brands, own-label or fresh food" was
misleading in relation to the own-label and fresh food items,
because it did not take into account product attributes such as
provenance and ethics.
It argued that comparing products such as Tesco's
non-Fairtrade bananas with Sainsbury's Fairtrade bananas or
Tesco's Everyday Value ham, which is produced in the European
Union, with Sainsbury's basics ham, which is British, was
The ASA ruled, "While we acknowledged there would be
differences in animal welfare and country of origin for the
ingredients, we were satisfied that Tesco had taken those
elements into account when identifying and matching products and
had compared on the basis of them meeting the same need."
Tesco's UK marketing director, David Wood, said the ASA's
verdict vindicated the retailer's decision to "go the extra mile
for customers" and offer a price-matching scheme based on a full
basket of shopping.
CAMPAIGN OF ITS OWN
Sainsbury's, whose "Brand Match" scheme compares the prices
of branded products only, said it had yet to decide whether to
appeal the ASA ruling.
Its immediate reaction was to launch a "Same price,
different values" print advertising campaign across national
"If there's one big lesson that we should all have learned
from the horsemeat scandal, it's that customers care deeply
about where their food comes from and how it is produced," said
Mike Coupe, Sainsbury's commercial director.
Unlike Tesco and Asda, Sainsbury's was not implicated in the
horsemeat scandal. None of its products testing positive for
The advertising spat is the latest in a long list of
disputes between the two grocers.
In January, Sainsbury's accused Tesco of being "a bit
disingenuous" in headlining its Christmas trading statement with
a figure that included sales activity related to coupons.
Though Tesco overtook Sainsbury's at Britain's No. 1
retailer in 1995, Sainsbury's has performed better of late.
Tesco issued its first profit warning in over 20 years in
January 2012, while Sainsbury has posted 34 consecutive quarters
of like-for-like sales growth.