NEWS15 September 2009

Bauer Radio in hot water over Costa Coffee research claim


UK— Bauer Radio is in hot water with regulator Ofcom over research claims made by Costa Coffee in its sponsorship of competitions on three radio stations.

Sponsor credits used in trails for competitions on Kiss 101, Key 103 and Fourth One stated that “7 out of 10 coffee lovers prefer Costa coffee”.

The claim was based on research Costa commissioned from Tangible whereby a sample of 174 self-defined ‘coffee lovers’ compared Costa’s cappuccino with Starbucks’ and one other rival’s.

In the tests, 70% of respondents expressed a preference for Costa’s product – but Starbucks complained to Ofcom that the ‘7 out of 10’ statistics as broadcast were unqualified, could not be supported and could be understood as a preference claim against all coffee drinks, not just cappucinos.

In investigating Starbucks’ complaint, Ofcom received a response from Bauer explaining that it “did not have room” to include supporting information to qualify the claim in its broadcasts, but that further information on the promotion and the research was made available through station websites and Costa’s own webpage – although none of the trails referred listeners online.

Ofcom therefore ruled that the claim as aired was in breach of the Broadcasting Code. It said: “We do not consider that an unqualified claim such as ‘7 out of 10… prefer Costa coffee’ could be made without appropriate qualification to the claim itself and accompanying explanatory detail.

“Where claims require such qualification it is not sufficient to rely on these being placed on websites or in other places away from the broadcast sponsor credit.”