Virgin Media Broadband Advert Provokes ASA Ban

Virgin Media has once again fallen foul of the Advertising Standards Authority

Virgin Media has once again been slapped on the wrist for misleading consumers in its broadband adverts.

A total of 18 complaints were received by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), over the television advert featuring the former Doctor Who star David Tennant.

Baseball bat

The advert showed Tennant walking across the screen, his figure freezing and reappearing, so as to visually mimic the common online buffering associated when streaming content-rich media online.

“Don’t you just hate it when you’re watching something online and it buffers, and this symbol appears?,” asks the former Doctor Who star, who takes a baseball bat to the buffering symbol that is shown on screen.

Tennant then uses the baseball bat and smashes the symbol to pieces before stamping on it.

“Ah. that’s better. Now from Virgin Media, you could say bye-bye to buffering with superfast fibre-optic broadband,” says Tennant, after his streak of buffering destruction.

“Join today for superfast fibre-optic broadband, unlimited UK weekend calls, all at half price for the first six months. Check it out online.”

Misleading advert

The ASA received complaints claiming the ad was misleading, because users would still experience buffering.

In its adjudication, the ASA agreed the advert was misleading and an exaggeration, ordering Virgin Media not to show it again in its current form.

Virgin Media had argued that the word “buffering” had a less technical meaning for consumers and had become synonymous with “interruptions” or “delays in streaming content”.

But this cut little ice with the ASA, which said there are a number of factors that could affect buffering that were beyond the control of Virgin. “It therefore could not be assumed that the average viewer would be aware of this and that, without qualification, the claims in the ad could be understood by viewers to mean that the issue of buffering in general would be addressed by the fibre-optic broadband service,” said the ASA.

Past Infringements

“Because of the ambiguity of the way in which the claim was presented, we concluded that the ad was misleading,” it said.

This is not the first time Virgin Media or other ISPs have faced censorship from the ASA.

In May Virgin Media’s broadband advert that featured the sprinter Usian Bolt was deemed by the ASA to be misleading over its price and speed claims. And in June another Usain Bolt advert in which Virgin Media said it was “doubling your broadband speed” was also ruled misleading.

Prior to that Virgin Media’s “Stop the Con” website was banned by the ASA last year, after the ISP had previously called for more broadband speed honesty in the UK.

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