BT hit with seventh ad ban

Ad watchdog has investigated telecoms giant 11 times in past four years.

Banned: BT press ad appeared in August 2018
Banned: BT press ad appeared in August 2018

A BT ad that claimed the company provided the UK’s most powerful broadband signal has been banned, following an 11th investigation into the telecom giant’s advertising in the space of four years. 

The press execution, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, included the claim "UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi vs major broadband providers" as a feature of BT’s Infinity broadband package.

Virgin Media complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that this claim was misleading and could not be substantiated, and also highlighted a claim on BT’s website that it provided the UK’s "most powerful business Wi-Fi signal". 

When contacted by the ASA, BT cited in-house tests that it said showed how its routers performed better than competitors. 

However, in its ruling today, the regulator said BT had not tested for all significant forms of interference that could affect the speed of a home Wi-Fi connection.

The ads must not appear again in their current forms, the ASA ruled.

Today’s judgment is the 11th time the watchdog has investigated BT since the beginning of 2015 – seven of which have been upheld.

Ryan Reynolds, the star of Deadpool, holds the unusual distinction of featuring in two banned ads for BT: "Faster" (2016), in which he rolled out of a car, and "Helicopter" (2017), in which he clung on to an helicopter as it took off.

Former culture minister Matt Hancock described broadband ads as "incredibly misleading" in 2016 when the ASA moved to ban the words "up to" for telecoms brands promoting internet speed. 

In its ruling today, the ASA said: "We told BT not to claim that their routers were 'the UK’s most powerful' unless they could demonstrate that they could provide a stronger signal than other major providers when subjected to other forms of non-Wi-Fi interference, and unless they could provide recordings of the levels of all types of interference when each router was tested to demonstrate that each router was subjected to consistent levels of interference."

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