Butlin’s misled families with claim that its £49 breaks were four times cheaper than staying at home

By Linsey McNeill
08/03/2023
Home » Butlin’s misled families with claim that its £49 breaks were four times cheaper than staying at home

Butlin’s has been told not to repeat an ad in which it claimed that its Showtime four-day breaks worked out four times cheaper than staying at home and entertaining the kids.

It compared the cost of its £49 midweek breaks with the cost of activities, such as going to a waterpark, a fairground and a pantomime.

But advertising watchdogs said the ad didn’t make it clear that the breaks were only available during midweek term-times.

The Advertising Standards Authority investigated the ad’s claims after a complainant said that Butlin’s Showtime packages cost ‘considerably’ more than £49 during the school holidays, when most families were able to get away.

In its defence, Butlin’s said it believed the ad made it clear that the £49 price related to midweek term-time breaks.

It pointed out that the ad made no reference to school holidays and that ‘midweek’ appeared in the logo and the main body of the ad, rather than being hidden in the terms and conditions.

It said the ad contained a URL linking to the dedicated Showtime landing page of its website, which stated that breaks ran throughout the year during term-time.

It believed that the comparison with ‘staying home’ prices was fair because neither set of prices related to school holidays.

Butlin’s also pointed out that there was a significant market for pre-school aged children who enjoyed going to Butlin’s throughout the year, and of 72 breaks available in 2023, nine were priced at £49 or less.

However, the ASA said the ad didn’t make it sufficiently clear that the £49 offer was only available midweek during term-time. It added: “We also considered that consumers would understand from repeated references to ‘staying at home vs family break at Butlin’s’ and the fact that the ad was for a four-day break, that the comparison was intended to illustrate how much staying at home and entertaining children with local activities during the school holidays would be, compared to staying at Butlin’s where activities were included.

“We therefore expected that any evidence substantiating the price claim would include breaks taking place during school holidays.

“However, we noted that the pricing data showed only midweek, term-time breaks were available at £49 or less and that no midweek breaks at Butlin’s were available for the price of £49 during the school holidays.

“We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.”

Butlin’s was told the ad must not appear again and future ads for Showtime Breaks must make it clear that ‘from’ price referred to midweek, term-time breaks only and excluded school holidays.

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