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ASA Slaps Telewest Broadband
By: MarkJ - 16 March, 2005 (9:27 AM)

UPDATE: We've added in Telewest's responce. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against one of Telewest's broadband promotions. The wordplay might have made some consumers believe the operator had attempted to install broadband at their premises without permission.

The Authority considered that both the headline claim "Sorry we missed you ..." and the text "We were going to pop round on 9-11-04 ...", on the back of a direct mailing designed to resemble a calling card, was likely to mislead some recipients into believing the advertisers had already visited their homes.

Although it considered that a full and careful reading of the back of the mailing would make clear to most recipients that the advertisers had not actually visited them, and noted the inside of the mailing was obviously an advertisement, the Authority considered that the mailing was likely to imply misleadingly to some recipients, particularly the elderly, that the advertisers had visited them and might therefore cause fear and distress without good reason.

The Authority told the advertisers not to repeat the approach and advised them to seek guidance from the CAP Copy Advice team on how to amend the mailing.

Telewest's statement:

A spokesperson for Telewest Broadband, said: "We always aim to create standout with our marketing. Our direct mail is designed to be thought provoking and eye catching to elicit a response from consumers. We were aiming to capture recipients' attention with the calling
card and demonstrate, in a creative way, the ease of switching to our broadband internet service.

The mailing was hugely successful, generating twice the usual response rate, suggesting that the majority of consumers understood the approach and accepted the postcard as a piece of direct mail.

We took steps to expose the postcard as a spoof, including consumer friendly language and wordplay for example 'we were going to pop round' and 'we knew you hadn't asked us to...'

The ASA Council rejected the recommendation by the ASA Executive, which supported our view that this wasn't misleading or distressing, highlighting the subjective nature of the marketing material.

While we are disappointed with the ASA's decision, we will comply with the recommendations. It was not our intention to cause distress to anyone.

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