BT's 'Adam and Jane' broadband ad banned by ASA
A TV advert, three radio adverts and a national press advert for BT Total Broadband have been banned by the ASA following 17 complaints from competitors and the general public. The complaints focused on one of the 'Adam and Jane' series of adverts where Adam is seen with an estate agent looking at a property whilst talking to Jane on the telephone. The estate agent struggles with slow Internet speeds and blames this on the 6 o'clock peak period whilst Jane is able to browse the websites fine on her BT Total Broadband 20Mbps connection.
Complaints about the advert included:
- challenges to whether BT could substantiate the claim "BT is rolling out up to 20 meg speeds to give you a consistently faster broadband even at peak times"
- viewers objected to the visual comparison that a website on a 20meg service would not load any faster than with an 8meg service
- viewers objected to the visual demonstration on Jane's laptop as they believed it was faster than could ordinarily be achieved
- Sky and TalkTalk complained about the restrictions on the availability of the service and the claims of independently obtained data in reference to the claim "consistently faster broadband speeds compared with the ADSL* industry average"
- Virgin and TalkTalk complained the same claim was misleading as it was contradicted by a recent Ofcom survey which included more robust data compiled over a longer period of time
BT provided a substantial defence of the adverts including additional data to that used to provide the original comparison from Epitiro. However, the ASA upheld all the complaints on grounds of things being misleading and breaching advertising rules on evidence. The last point by Virgin and TalkTalk was not upheld as the Ofcom data did not specifically take in to account the BT 20meg service so the data was not relevant.
BT pointed out that the visualisation of websites loading used in the advert was not intended to be used as an actual comparison of the faster speeds achievable and that the loading times shown were realistic. The ASA did not however agree as they felt an advert focused on comparing the benefits of a faster service should feature a demonstration that was representative of the benefits.
The ASA also pointed out to BT that they must ensure they have robust documentary evidence to be able to prove all claims which could be objectively substantiated and to ensure that any restrictions on availability are made clear in future advertising.
"We are disappointed by the ASA's adjudication. At the time the ads appeared, BT had just started rolling out a new up-to-20Mb broadband service across the country and we wanted to highlight the higher speeds available in newly enabled exchange areas offering customers consistently faster web browsing in comparison to BT's up-to-8Mb service. There was certainly no intention to mislead."BT Statement