BT Infinity ad banned after Virgin Media complaint

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The advertising watchdog has banned an ad campaign by BT for making absolute claims about the speed of its broadband service, after a complaint by Virgin Media.

The campaign consisted of TV, press and digital work by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

The press ad stated: "Share photos and videos at unbeatable speeds. Do more online with three times faster fibre optic broadband. Whether you're into uploading photos and videos to Facebook, downloading all your favourite albums fast or streaming HD movies, transform your world online with BT Infinity."

The TV ad's voiceover claimed: "BT infinity lets you do more online at speeds four times faster than Sky's typical broadband. Share photos and videos with friends at unbeatable speeds. Get the edge with super responsive online gaming, enjoy a truly amazing shopping experience, or even download an entire album, in seconds. Fibre optic broadband, Infinity, only from BT".

On-screen text below read: "Speeds based on download averages from Ofcom report May 2011. Only available in Infinity areas. Check BT.com for availability. BT Infinity – 4 x faster than Sky's typical broadband speeds".

Also disputed was an internet display ad which stated: "Share music, photos and videos at unbeatable speeds. Four times faster broadband. Only from BT."

Virgin Media, along with three other complainants, argued that BT’s "unbeatable" speed claims were misleading because they did not state that the speed was available with certain packages only, as well as challenging whether the "Four times faster" claim, which appeared on the internet ad, could be substantiated as it did not state the basis of the comparison.

Virgin also challenged claims that Infinity was "three times faster" for all the activities stated in the press ad. 

BT countered that claims about the speed users could share content was a "top parity", not superiority claim, and was claiming that no other provider could beat it, not that it was better than other providers, and that it did not believe consumers would interpret the ad in the same way.

BT also argued that the ad did not state a price point, so customers were not being misled about what it would cost them to get the unbeatable speeds,

It also said that because the average Infinity download and upload speeds were more than four times faster than the national average, it considered, the claim, "Four times faster broadband", was true and not misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority ASA) told BT not to repeat the ads in their current form, upholding complaints on four different counts.

It decided the implication that the speeds would be received by all Infinity customers, not just those who had chosen a particular package, was misleading.

It also decided BT could not substantiate the claims that its speeds were unbeatable.

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