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Virgin Media UK Direct Mailing Advert Banned by ASA After Sky Complaint

Wednesday, Apr 30th, 2014 (8:38 am) - Score 1,890

A series of complaints by Sky (Sky Broadband) has caused the Advertising Standards Authority to ban a direct mailing promotion for Virgin Media’s broadband, TV and phone bundles, which omitted material information regarding the differences between the two services and failed to make adequately clear the basis of a £214.95 savings claim.

The complaint isn’t specifically broadband focused and so we won’t spend too much time discussing it, although suffice to say that the ASA didn’t buy into the mailings “truthful comparison” table that appeared to compare Virgin Media’s TiVo service bundles with Sky+HD.


ASA Ruling (REF: A14-254931)

We understood that Virgin Media intended the comparison with Sky to be a general one rather than a comparison between a specific Virgin TV package and an equivalent product offered by Sky, and that they wished to promote an offer independent of that comparison.

We considered, however, that the inclusion of comparisons throughout the mailing, including specific comparisons between the services offered by both, such as the fact both offered Sky Sports and Sky Movies channels, and that a consumer could record, pause and rewind live TV with both providers, meant that some consumers would instead understand that the savings claim was based on a comparison with the cost of a similar package from Sky. Further, in the case of such comparisons, we noted that the Code required material information, relevant to the comparison in question, to be clearly stated.

Because we did not consider that the ad clearly communicated that the saving related to Virgin Media’s standard prices, or that consumers would need to purchase a specific TV and phone package to achieve the maximum saving of £214.95, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ASA advised Virgin Media to ensure they “made clear the basis of their savings claims” in future promotions.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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