BT Ryan Reynolds broadband ad banned by watchdog following dozens of complaints

An ad fronted by actor Ryan Reynolds promoting BT as the provider of the "UK's most powerful Wi-Fi signal" has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Online, TV and radio variations of the campaign, titled 'Helicopter', featured the brand ambassador demonstrating the power of BT Infinity’s Wi-Fi signal. In the tongue-in-cheek TV spot the Deadpool star was shown casually walking to his garden before grabbing on to a moving helicopter; seemingly showcasing the power of his connection.

The advertising watchdog received 61 complaints in total about the campaign, including from competitors Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Sky. The complainants took issue with the claim made in the ads that BT offered the "UK’s most powerful Wi-Fi signal" and another assertion that BT's Smart Hub allowed users access to "faster Wi-Fi connections in more rooms than the latest hubs from other major UK broadband providers".

Although BT said the first claim was qualified in on-screen text in relation to signal tests it had carried out, and that the second line "related only to the capabilities of the router," the ASA slapped the telecoms provider with a ban.

"We considered that it was sufficient for BT to test only the three top-performing hubs in order to demonstrate that the same results could be achieved in a representative real home setting," said the regulator in response to BT's evidence. "However, it was not sufficient to substantiate the claim as it would be understood by consumers, as a comparison with the whole market."

As such the ASA found the campaign to have breached rules around misleading advertising, exaggeration and comparisons.

Other complaints were made about whether the router's Wi-Fi signal could reach the distances stated in the ads, ie whether users could still get a signal while dangling from an in-flight helicopter. However, the watchdog rubbished that challenge, noting the ads "depicted a fantastical situation that did not reflect the way consumers were likely to use Wi-Fi."

This isn't the first time Reynolds has got BT in hot water, last year another campaign featuring the A-lister was spiked by the ASA following a complaint from Virgin Media.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.