Costa Coffee has claimed victory in its battle with Starbucks over an aggressive advertising campaign in which it claimed that "7 out of 10" coffee lovers preferred its coffee.
The Advertising Standards Agency has not upheld any of Starbucks' complaints concerning the poster campaign, which started in March last year, and also contained the line "Sorry Starbucks - the people have voted".
Starbucks said that the slogans "Starbucks Drinkers Prefer Costa" and "7 Out of 10 Coffee Lovers Prefer Costa" were misleading and that the research that led to Costa's claims was flawed.
Costa's research, conducted by marketing consultancy Tanglible Branding, subjected 57 people to a blind tasting of capuccinos from Costa, Starbucks and Caffè Nero.
Jim Slater, marketing director of Costa Coffee, said: "Costa has been totally exonerated. The adjudication is good news, but not a surprise. The ASA has run an extremely thorough investigation, which has found Starbuck's complaints to be without merit: 7 out of 10 coffee lovers really do prefer Costa cappuccino."
A Starbucks spokesperson said: "It's puzzling that the ASA has changed its mind since its initial findings in our favour - especially as OFCOM ruled the campaign was misleading as long ago as September. However, our coffee is Fairtrade and from the best 3% of the crop and the fact we have a record number of customers says more about it than a paid-for survey based on just 57 people."
By Neil Gerrard
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