Iceland has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for running an ad describing its crumpets as better in quality than Marks & Spencer’s.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) upheld a complaint by M&S that Iceland’s ad, which appeared in national press and on Iceland’s website, was misleading for stating “Iceland Luxury Sourdough Crumpets are better than M&S Ultimate Five Grain Crumpets for overall quality”.

Iceland said the ad was based on a blind taste test of 58 people, conducted by Cambridge Market Research on 8 June 2017 and 21 June 2017, in three different locations, using Iceland 6 Luxury Sourdough Crumpets and M&S’ Ultimate Five Grain Crumpets (which were crowned winner of the Bakery Innovation of the Year category at last year’s Baking Industry Awards).

Seventy-nine per cent of those surveyed thought the overall quality of Iceland’s crumpets was ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, compared to 62% rating the M&S crumpets as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’.

Iceland argued that the methods of comparison between the Iceland and M&S crumpets were clear and that the ad was not misleading.

But the ASA upheld M&S’ complaint that it was misleading, noting that participants in the taste test had not been asked to express a preference for either one of the products.

“Although more participants had rated the Iceland crumpet as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in relation to the explicit category of ‘overall quality’, we did not consider that the results of the survey were sufficient to demonstrate that the Iceland crumpet was ‘better … for overall quality’,” stated the ASA in the ruling.

A second complaint by M&S, which challenged whether the claim in the ad could be verified, was not upheld.

A recent complaint by The Real Bread Campaign that an Iceland ad for its bread was misleading was not upheld by the ASA.