BT's Ryan Reynolds ad banned for 'misleading' broadband claims

BT's ad starring Ryan Reynolds for its internet service has been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading claims about service speed.

In "Fast just got faster", created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Reynolds dramatically stunt-rolls out of a car before walking through a glass door because he is too busy to open it. 

"Life moves pretty fast when you’re Ryan Reynolds", the movie actor explains, which is why he uses BT Infinity, whose internet moves "as fast" as he does. 

Reynolds says, "That's why I've got BT Infinity. It now offers speeds of up to 52 Mbps – the fastest fibre speeds as standard." A laptop was shown, on which two speedometer graphics were featured. One was labelled "Sky Fibre" and the other, which showed a higher speed, was labelled with the BT logo. On-screen text at this point explains, "Fastest speeds vs standard entry-level fibre products of major broadband providers."

The TV ad, launched in April, was backed up by a national newspaper ad which also described 52Mbps as "fastest fibre speeds as standard" for entry-level products of major broadband providers. The claim was also made on BT’s website on 22 April. 

Virgin Media complained to the ASA that the ads were misleading because they implied BT’s up to 52 Mbps service was the fastest maximum speed for a lowest-price tier available in the UK.

When contacted by the ASA, BT said that had tried to be clearer that they were comparing their standard entry-level ‘up to Mbps’ broadband service with the advertised headline speeds of major broadband providers’ standard entry-level broadband, namely Sky Fibre, TalkTalk and Plusnet at up to 38 Mbps and Virgin Media at up to 50 Mbps.

BT offered to amend its advertising to make the basis of the comparison clearer and more prominently qualified. 

The ASA banned the ads from appearing again in the form that was complained about, while BT was told to ensure that future ads made clear the basis of the comparison "fastest fibre speed as standard".

A BT spokesman said: "This complaint was upheld on a minor technicality relating to the exclusion of niche broadband providers whose products are only available on a limited basis in specific geographical locations, and not to the vast majority of the population (like BT Infinity).

"The fact is that no other major broadband provider offers their customers a faster fibre speed as standard, and on this point the ASA agreed with BT."

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