June 17 meeting to discuss ad war among hypermarts

PETALING JAYA: The Advertising Standards Authority Malaysia (ASA) is expected to discuss the advertising war among hypermarkets at its next monthly meeting on June 17.

An industry source told StarBiz that ads that did not use fair comparisons in making claims would bring the advertising industry into disrepute.

“If consumers don’t believe in advertising, all ads will be wasting money,” he said.

The ASA may invite representatives of hypermarkets to the meeting, he added.

The Malaysian Code of Advertising Practice states: “No advertisement should bring advertising into disrepute or reduce confidence in advertising as a service to the industry and to the public.”

The code does allow ads which contain comparisons with other advertisers or products “in the interest of vigorous competition and information.”

However, it also says: “Advertisements should not attack or discredit other products, advertisements or advertisers directly or by implication.”

Among the actions that can be taken by the ASA is to ask newspaper publishers not to provide space for particular ads.

Despite their strong rivalry and claims of being the low price leaders, the hypermarkets themselves have not lodged complaints against each other with the ASA at least over the last one year.

However, over the weekend, hypermarket operator Mydin came out with full-page national ads in the form of a letter from managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin that criticised ads by unnamed hypermarkets, saying the latter’s prices are “not fixed for any duration.” “Call it false reporting, bad advertising or dishonesty ... take your pick,” the letter said.

Speaking to StarBiz by phone yesterday, Ameer Ali said these ads had crossed the line. “They’re just picking out a few items and changing the prices for one day,” he said, adding that Mydin kept its prices fixed for two weeks to allow consumers time to shop. He also questioned whether some hypermarkets had ample stock of promotional items.

“If you want to tell the consumers your items are cheaper, put a list of all items on the smartpengguna.com.my website (launched by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry recently) so consumers can compare,” he said.

Ho Mun Hao, marketing director of Giant hypermarket operator GCH Retail (M) Sdn Bhd, said: “We’re definitely not afraid to compete. The whole idea of the recent ads is to show consumers our prices are low compared with our competitors.”

Tesco officials contacted did not give comments.

Alex Chan, group managing partner of marketing communications group People ‘n Rich Holdings Sdn Bhd which does not hold any hypermarket account, said he was all for comparative advertising because “a more informed society is a more knowledgeable society”, as long as the ads were within the limits of decency, fairness and social norms.

According to him, in overseas markets like the US, comparative ads even identify the competitors’ brands by name. “If this is allowed in Malaysia, it would make for a more open consumer society because the consumers would be more informed and companies would have to deliver what they advertised,” he said. For latest Bursa Malaysia indices, charts and other information click here

For latest Bursa Malaysia indices, charts and other information click here

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