BT Reprimanded Over Fibre Advert Claims

BT has been rapped over the knuckles by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over its Infinity ads, which claim to provide ‘instant’ Internet services.

According to the ruling, the advert for BT fibre optic broadband showed a burst of light, followed by the statement: “BT Infinity The birth of the instant Internet”. Further text in the ad stated “Upload and share high quality photos and videos instantly; Download your favourite music instantly; Enjoy multiple websites and online content instantly; Stream HD movies and TV shows instantly”.

The ASA received four complainants over the use of the word “instantly”, which they felt was misleading because while BT’s Infinity fibre service might be fast, users would still experience some delays, (i.e. latency).

Instant Coffee

BT defended the advert and claimed in its defence that the advert would be understood by consumers as meaning a much faster service than was previously available, rather than literally meaning ‘instant’.

“BT believed consumers would know that the word “instant” did not mean the complete absence of any delay or zero seconds, especially in the context of broadband and the Internet, but argued that consumers who did not already have a fibre optic service would understand the ad to mean that that technology would result in much faster upload and download times than they were used to,” said the ASA in its ruling.

BT also pointed out that the words “instant” and “instantly” were used in a number of other industries to describe products that were not delivered instantly, such as instant coffee and instant hair removal cream.

However, the ASA ruled that the ad breached clauses in the Committee of Advertising Practice code relating to ‘substantiation’ and ‘truthfulness’.

“The ASA considered that consumers would understand the claims ‘Upload and share high quality photos and videos instantly’, ‘Download your favourite music instantly’, ‘Enjoy multiple websites and online content instantly’ and ‘Stream HD movies and TV shows instantly’, as well as ‘The birth of the instant Internet’, to mean that BTs fibre optic broadband could deliver the listed activities straightaway, or with no noticeable delay,” said the ASA.

“We noted the three customer profiles and two videos submitted by BT, however, we did not consider that profiles and testimonials alone were sufficient to substantiate claims relating to the speed of a broadband service,” said the regulator. “Because we had not seen evidence to support the claims made in the ad, we concluded that it was misleading.”

Not The First

The ruling means that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

BT is not the first to be caught out on the wording of its adverts. Orange was forced to pull an advert that claimed its 3G network had a better reach than its rivals, after a compliant by rival operator 3UK.

In June Vodafone was rapped over the knuckles by the ASA over an advert claims concerning its Sure Signal femtocell. That advert stated “Only Vodafone can guarantee mobile signal in your home.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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