Comparative Advertising Claim: Resolving an Advertising Dispute

Context and Challenge

Our client was midway through its sales tour when it discovered that a competitor had created a comparative advertising chart comparing the prices that the competitor was selling holidays at with the prices that our client was selling at. The comparative advertising chart was not only misleading but also plain wrong in certain areas. The competitor was distributing the chart to our client’s customers and potential customers.

The impact of what our client’s competitor was doing was potentially very damaging for our client’s business and reputation. This is why we had to move very quickly in order to address and tackle the challenge.

Process and Insight

We had to analyse the pricing that our client was using for its package holidays as well as the pricing that our client’s competitor was using. Competitor advertising law is complicated, and it was important to have a very clear picture on the package offerings of our client and that of their competitor. We had to assess the extent to which the competitor’s information was wrong or misleading and take a view as to what the effect in law this would have i.e. assess our client’s claim. We also had to understand the extent to which the competitor’s comparison charts had been distributed amongst our client’s customers and potential customers.

Solution

Having advised our client on its case we came up with a strategy in which either the competitor would stop what it was doing quickly or, if not, we would take court action to enforce our client’s rights and protect its position.

Before entering into correspondence with the opposite party, we also had to make early strategic calls as to the messages that our client should be sending out to customers and potential customers.

Results

Having sent out initial correspondence the competitor stopped distributing the charts and admitted that it had got its facts about our client wrong. Not only that but we were able to show that the competitor had got its own price information wrong and so was guilty of misleading customers as to its own package prices. Word spread around our client’s customers and potential customers as to what had gone on and the upshot was that the competitor’s actions backfired on them. Potential customers took a dim view of the competitor’s behaviour – the travel industry is one where price points are particularly sensitive so behaving in a misleading way to customers didn’t go down well at all.