The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint made by British Telecom (BT) about Virgin Media’s “superfast broadband” campaign starring Usain Bolt. The TV ad for broadband showed a laptop playing a video of Usain Bolt sitting behind a desk, he says, “Hi I’m Richard Branson and I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering and hello to a superfast broadband”.
The shot then zoomed out to show various other internet-enabled devised with a male voice over adding: “Right now with Virgin Media you could enjoy up to 30 meg fibre optic broadband and calls free for the first three months and, with broadband that's four times faster than the UK average, everyone at home could be online at the same time.”
BT’s complaint was in regards to the line “bye-bye to buffering” which they claimed was misleading and implied that Virgin Media broadband customers would never experience buffering, which is not the case as there are numerous causes of buffering which the internet service provider has no control over.
The ASA considered the statement would be interpreted by viewers as an objective claim and that in choosing the 30 Mb broadband they would no longer experience buffering. The ASA commented: “Because we understood that users of the service might still experience buffering, we concluded that the claim was misleading.”
Virgin Media said they considered the claim to be “puffery” and that “buffering was less discernible” on their 30Mb service, they added “the ad was no longer running and would not be aired again.”