Diary: Sky uses Rapier wit to lure subscribers

Imitation is well known to be the sincerest form of flattery, but we doubt that this tired old term applies when the two parties involved are those bitter rivals BSkyB and Virgin Media.

While Diary is used to running pieces on advertiser "tributes" to other advertisers, Sky seems to have taken this to new levels with a recent mailing to potential new customers.

A few weeks ago, Virgin Media's agency, Rapier, sent out an effective mailer using the line "11 reasons to say goodbye to Sky", which was backed by a handwritten "Dear John" note to send to Sky to say that it had been dumped in favour of Virgin.

So effective was the mailing that Sky has retaliated with a mailing that looks almost identical. It uses the line "11 reasons to say goodbye to Virgin Media" and also includes an apparently handwritten letter imploring Virgin customers to switch.

The work is staggering in its ability to directly copy the Rapier mailing, right down to virtually all the text in the written note - even the handwriting isn't all that dissimilar - including the entire first line that begins: "I'm sorry, it's just not working out between us."

It seems that this extreme form of flattery will do little to improve poor relations between two companies that has previously resulted in litigation.

Indeed, you may remember what happened two years ago when a dispute over distribution went legal and took 20 months before they agreed to drop High Court proceedings against each other.

The latest shenanigans suggest that although Sky might not win any awards for creativity, it's right up there for sheer audacity.