The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have today told Virgin Media to pull their 'stop the broadband con' campaign after broadband providers filed various complaints about it. The initial campaign launched in November 2010 was designed to help bring clarity to broadband speed marketing, but focused on the fact that their service doesn't suffer from slow downs in the same way as other broadband providers due to the length of telephone line from the local telephone exchange.
Both Sky and BT lodged complaints with the ASA and these included complaints about various bits of text used in the campaign including misleading phrases such as:
The providers also complained that phrasing focusing on being 'conned' and getting the 'truth' implied that other broadband providers dealt with consumers dishonestly and were denigratory towards other ISPs.
The ASA upheld all 8 complaints against Virgin and concluded that these breached various points of the advertising code including: misleading advertising, substantiation, exaggeration, comparisons with identifiable competitors, imitation and denigration. The ASA therefore deemed that the ads must not be shown again in their current form, and that Virgin must ensure marketing material in future offers a clear basis for comparative claims and did not discredit or denigrate other companies.
"Stop the Broadband Con was not an advertising campaign. The site enabled visitors to run an independent speed test, take a look at Ofcom's official broadband report, hear views on why 'up to' advertising needs to change and add their support.
Advertising 'up to' broadband speeds you can't deliver is a con. The ASA, Ofcom, numerous consumer groups and thousands of internet users have all reiterated our call for change and, instead of complaining about a legitimate effort to give consumers a voice in the debate, Sky and BT should step up to the challenge and start being honest about their broadband."Virgin Media spokesperson
Whilst Virgin claim this wasn't an advertising campaign, it does still fall within the scope of the ASA. Somewhat ironically, Virgin included within the text of their campaign "You deserve the truth from all ISPs and we're urging the Advertising Standards Authority to put a stop to misleading broadband advertising once and for all ...". In this case Virgin, it seems you have gotten what you wished for!