Monday, 22 February 2010

ASA Ruling - "The Beachhouse" Promotion

Following a consumer complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa’s Directorate recently considered the following promotional offer contained in a print advertisement of Dros Franchise (Pty) Ltd:

Buy any 2 salads and receive a 750ml bottle of ‘the beachhouse’!” Adjacent to this offer, a price of “R135.00” as well as pictures of a salmon salad, smoked chicken salad and a bottle of ‘the beachhouse’ wine is displayed.

It was submitted by the complainant that the advertisement suggests that the bottle of wine is free and not for the account of the consumer. It was submitted further that the bottle of wine was not, in fact, free but rather it was supplied marginally cheaper than the regular price.
The relevant clauses of Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice considered were 4.2.1 (dealing with misleading claims), 4.4 (dealing with the use of the word “free”) and 19 (dealing with pricing policy).

Clause 4.4 regulates the use of the word “free” in advertisements and was immediately dismissed as not applicable in this case as the word “free” does not feature in the advertisement. Whether the advertisement implies or suggests that the product offered is without cost to the consumer, despite the absence of the word “free”, is discussed with reference to Clause 4.2.1 which prohibits any statement or visual representation which, directly or indirectly, is likely to mislead the consumer. The Directorate noted that the use of the term “buy” in respect of the salads and “receive” in respect of the wine could lead consumers to believe that if they were to purchase two salads that they would receive the bottle of wine and suggests that the wine would be free. However, the advertisement in question displayed a total price of R135.00 for the “package” of the two salads and the bottle of wine. All consumers who made use of this promotion would have paid R135.00 in total for two salads and the bottle of wine. The Directorate considered this to be made clear by the advertisement and found the advertisement not to be in breach of Clause 4.2.1.


The advertisement was, further, found not to fall foul of Clause 19 of the Code, the relevant part of which requires that the selling price at which goods will be sold against immediate payment must be quoted in full and must include all necessary and incidental costs without which the goods cannot or may not be bought. It was common cause that the consumer could purchase any two salads and a bottle of ‘the beachhouse’ wine for R135.00 and that no additional costs were payable. The advertisement was not in breach of the pricing policy and the complaint was dismissed.

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