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M&S Christmas ad banned for misleading customers over price of dinner

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 13/06/2018 Lucia Binding

a close up of food © Provided by Independent Print Limited A "misleading" Marks and Spencer advert that claimed customers could buy their Christmas dinner for cheaper than the previous year has been banned.

Print advertisements for the retailer in December said its ingredients were “£10 cheaper than 2016,” noting the claim was based on a report by the Good House Keeping Institute (GHI).

It added that it was “the only supermarket where Christmas dinner cost less than last year.”

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But it did not make clear that two products – a whole fresh turkey and a high-end Christmas cake – had been replaced with a frozen bird and a cheaper cake.

Marks & Spencer claimed customers could buy their Christmas dinner for £10 cheaper than the year before (PA) © Provided by Independent Print Limited Marks & Spencer claimed customers could buy their Christmas dinner for £10 cheaper than the year before (PA) Small print on the bottom of the page stated the ad was based on an independent survey by Good Housekeeping of comparable products for a Christmas dinner for eight people.

Two customers issued complaints to the advertising watchdog claiming the advert was misleading.

Marks and Spencer said it did not have a frozen turkey available to submit in 2016 but the GHI survey specifically required a frozen turkey in 2017.

It also said it was able to offer a Classic Christmas Cake at a better value price than the Collection Christmas Cake they sold in 2016.

The retailer said it is 'disappointed' by the ruling over the advert (PA) © Provided by Independent Print Limited The retailer said it is 'disappointed' by the ruling over the advert (PA) The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said consumers would interpret the claim to mean that they could buy the same type and quality of traditional Christmas food items that M&S offered in 2016 for £10 less in 2017.

"Because the ad suggested that the M&S Christmas 2017 dinner included the same type and quality of food items as the 2016 deal, when that was not the case, we concluded that the claim 'We're £10 cheaper than 2016' was likely to mislead consumers,” it said.

It also found the comparative claim that M&S was the "only supermarket where Christmas dinner cost less than last year" misleading.

An M&S spokesman said: "We're disappointed by the ruling, we made it clear it was a Good Housekeeping survey, we followed their 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."

Related: Quick and Easy Summer Salads (provided by My Recipes)


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