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Wal-Mart’s Asda Ordered to Withdraw ‘Misleading’ Ads

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Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Asda, the U.K. food retailer owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., was ordered to withdraw television and newspaper advertisements for a price guarantee promotion which the Advertising Standards Authority labelled “misleading.”

The advertisements, featuring a promise by Asda that shopping at its stores will be cheaper than its major competitors, cannot be shown again in their current form, the regulatory body said in ruling today following complaints by Tesco Plc and William Morrison Supermarkets Plc.

“We told Asda to ensure their ads did not suggest their price guarantee applied to all items, including non-grocery items and items that were specifically excluded, or that their savings claims referred to shopping generally,” the ASA said.

Asda said in a statement it was “delighted,” noting that five out of nine complaints weren’t upheld by the ASA. The price guarantee is “one of the easiest and best ways for shoppers to compare the cost of their groceries,” the supermarket said. Asda started a new series of advertisements on Jan. 31, which feature a promise that shopping will be 10 percent cheaper than its rivals or it will refund the difference.

Welcoming the ruling, Tesco described Asda’s campaign as “misleading and untruthful.”

“Asda has been found out here, but by running virtually the same campaign again and stretching the truth even further it is flaunting the spirit of the ASA ruling,,” Tesco Commercial Director Richard Brasher said in a statement. “I look forward to a quick resolution to the latest investigation -- customers have a right to be treated much better than this.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net.