Second BT Ryan Reynolds ad banned as internet advertising row deepens

Ryan Reynolds holds the rare distinction of starring in two ads that have been banned in the UK after BT claims about internet speed were once again taken to task.

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned four ads for BT Smart Hub, including a TV spot featuring Reynolds that launched in July 2016.

The ban comes only a week after Sky’s ad featuring Lego Batman was censured by the ads watchdog for misleading claims as the Committee of Advertising Practice decides new rules on how to advertise internet speeds.

The film, which also appeared as an internet ad on YouTube, sees the Deadpool star hanging on to the bottom of a helicopter as it takes off, demonstrating that he still has Wi-Fi access even from 200m in the air.

The campaign, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. also featured an ad on the BT website that claimed Smart Hub had "the UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi signal". There was also a radio ad in which Reynolds claimed the signal could "reach the length of 12 London buses".

Following 61 complaints about the ads, including from BT rivals Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk, the ASA investigated that BT claims about Smart Hub having the UK’s most powerful internet signal were misleading.

BT said it undertook extensive testing before making the claims in the ads and had conveyed that the "UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi signal" claim was qualified by making clear Smart Hub was tested against major broadband providers. The telecoms giant said its claims related only to the capabilities of the internet router, rather than to the overall broadband speed.

However, the ASA concluded that the claim was misleading because consumers would understand "most powerful Wi-Fi" signal as whole-of-market comparisons.

In October 2016 the ASA banned Reynolds' debut outing in a BT ad, "Faster", for misleading speed claims.