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ASA UK Bans BT TV Ad for Misleading Most Reliable Wireless Connection Claim

Posted: 01st Feb, 2012 By: MarkJ
bt uk broadband wifiasa uk bt complaintThe UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today upheld two primary complaints by multiple members of the public against a TV advert for BT Retail's broadband packages, which were judged to be "misleading" because its claim that the ISPs Wi-Fi equipped (HomeHub3) routers offered "the UK’s most reliable wireless connection" was not proven.

A second upheld complaint also challenged whether the advert misleadingly implied that BT was the only ISP to offer a router that actively avoided interference. The ASA ruled that BT's ad did not make sufficiently clear that the claim was actually based on avoiding interference from non-Wi-Fi devices only. After some digging we managed to find an original version of the advert (below), which has since been changed.


ASA Ruling ("UK’s most reliable wireless connection")

Because BT had not proven that the actual online experience was the most reliable, and because the ad did not contain a qualification to make clear that the “invisible network of competing signals” referred to signals emitted from non-Wi-Fi devices, and the claim “The UK’s most reliable wireless connection” referred to their Home Hub 3 router only, the claim was misleading.

ASA Ruling ("BT’s signal is designed to avoid interference")

We considered that most viewers would not know that all routers avoided interference from Wi-Fi devices and considered that in the absence of qualification, viewers would understand the voice-over “BT’s signal is designed to avoid interference ... That’s why it’s the UK’s most reliable wireless connection ...” to mean that BT was the only broadband provider to offer a router which avoided interference in general, regardless of its cause.

Because the ad did not make sufficiently clear that the claim was based on avoiding interference from non-Wi-Fi devices only, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

As usual the ASA has asked BT to remove their TV advert and not to repeat the claim "The UK's most reliable wireless connection" in future, unless they provided adequate evidence to substantiate it or qualified the basis in which the claim was made. BT made this change some months back.

A third complaint, which was NOT upheld, challenged whether interference "can cause some routers to drop out" (BT's claim). However BT had demonstrated that interference from "non-WiFi" devices could cause some routers to "drop out" (i.e. lose connectivity to your computer), which is indeed quite well known.
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