Another Virgin ad banned for "misleading" claims
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 27 Jun 2012 at 10:58
The Advertising Standards Authority has again hit out at Virgin Media over its advertising tactics, branding its claims “misleading”.
Following complaints from Sky, the ASA investigated two online adverts and a search engine advert that included the phrase: "Hi, I'm Richard Branson and I'm doubling everyone's broadband speeds".
The adverts, like an earlier promotion that was blocked in May, featured sprinter Usain Bolt.
According to the ASA, Virgin was indeed doubling speeds for some customers, but the boost did not apply across the board - which the adverts implied, with off-network customers excluded and 100Mbits/sec customers seeing a price cut instead of a speed upgrade.
The offer ended in late March, so there’s not much customers can do about it now
“Because the exclusions contradicted the main headline claim and because not all Virgin customers would have their broadband speeds doubled, we concluded that ad was misleading,” the ASA said in its ruling, adding that Virgin had run the ads despite being warned by advertising standards officials.
“We understood that CAP Copy Advice had advised Virgin that the claim ‘I'm doubling everyone's broadband speeds' would be problematic,” the ASA said.
Virgin Media couldn't be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
Delays devalue action
As in the previous case featuring Bolt, Virgin was told not to run the advert again, but the ruling highlights a problem with the ASA’s system.
The 18-31 May issue of Private Eye highlighted how advertisers continue to push the boundaries without facing fines. The journal pointed out that on 25 April Virgin posted a 2.4% increase in revenue, which the company said was “in part down to a brilliant advertising campaign featuring Usain Bolt”.
That was the very advert that was blocked on 9 May. “The offer ended in late March, so there’s not much customers can do about it now,” Private Eye pointed out.
All very well banning the ads, but it's still a useless penalty. The ads themselves are big, bold, 'in your face' and everywhere - whereas the fact that they've later been banned largely slips under everyone's radar.
All most people ever remember is the dishonest advert itself. Mission accomplished.
By Mr_John_T on 27 Jun 2012
Here's a better idea ...
Instead of banning untruthful ads, the ASA should force companies to deliver on all claims made in them, or compensation to an equivalent value if this is impossible. In other words, an advertisement should be construed as a legal contract.
By JohnAHind on 27 Jun 2012
100 Mb do get an increase
Your story neglects to mention that the 100 Mb users do get a 20% increase as well as a price decrease. They are benefiting from the new structure.
As someone who's currently on the 50Mb, I'm looking forward to these speeds (120Mb).
But even my 50Mb is consistently better than the 15-18Mb I got on ADSL2+. (Be, Sky could only manage 12Mb on the same line, after 30 minutes of badgering!)
By scooter91170 on 28 Jun 2012
Virgin BB is superior, end of!
They also conveniently neglect to mention that on-net 20Mbit/s customers receive a free upgrade to 60Mbit/s - that's a speed trippling by maths! In fact I'm regularly getting just over 60!
By 345jon on 28 Jun 2012
The service is second to none and has been since it was delivered by Blueyonder. My service is increasing from 20 to 60 Meg but I'm not going to call them and ask to be cut back to 40 am I??
The service is excelent and the TV even gets its own 10 Meg supply on top!
Get a grip ASA and stop whining!
If all the other suppliers bought into the fibre ethos then I may have some sympathy for them; Sky can't even supply me a guaranteed 8 Meg!
By Tucker_uk on 28 Jun 2012
What happened to the plain truth?
No ISP can complain about getting a ticket for parking on a double yellow line. If ISP's want to avoid this 'he said she said, tit for tat' nonsense they should simply stick to FACTS and be HONEST. I have used this fibre optic service since 1995 and it IS untouchable for the average UK customer. The folk in charge of advertising ought to be sacked for not getting it; be accurate, be honest and set the standard for adverts with no hidden extras.
By SabreT on 28 Jun 2012
Truth in advertising
I too am a fairly satisfied customer of Virgin. Nevertheless, I don't see how my satisfaction with their service can justify a great big bold lie.
It is high time the ASA penalised advertisers who lie in the same way as any other confidence fraud.
By bobellsmore on 28 Jun 2012
"Truth in advertising"
@bobellsmore there is no truth in advertising. Try spraying Lynx on yourself and see what happens!
But surely the fact that the majority of VM customers are at least doubling their speed, with all BB customers getting an increase, and the ones who aren't getting double speed, getting a price reduction, surely that should count in Virgin's favour.
Hell as an advert it's more credible than the up to 20Mb ADSL2+ ISPs offer! (Considering that was originally an up to 24Mb offer!)
By scooter91170 on 28 Jun 2012
Virgin always economic with truth.
Despite being told there would be problems with these ads Virgin continued lying as usual. Beardie really does run a crap firm!
By wizwot on 28 Jun 2012
Just another Usain Bolt...
By survivalskills on 28 Jun 2012
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