ASA Adjudication on Virgin Media Ltd
Virgin Media Ltd
Bartley Wood Business Park
25 July 2012
Number of complaints:
A TV ad for broadband showed a laptop playing a video of Usain Bolt sitting behind a desk. He said "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 devices while a male voice-over stated "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."
British Telecommunications plc (BT) challenged whether the claim "I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering" misleadingly implied that Virgin Media broadband customers would not experience buffering, because they understood that was not the case.
Virgin Media Ltd (Virgin) said they accepted that there were numerous causes of buffering, some of which they, as the internet service provider, had no control over. For that reason they took steps to ensure that they made no definitive claims as to the existence, or lack of, buffering.
Virgin said they considered the claim "I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering" to be puffery and that Usain Bolt, in the character of Richard Branson, was expressing a wish that he would like everyone to be able to say bye-bye to buffering and not claiming that they actually would. Virgin said, notwithstanding that, it was true that with their up to 30 Mb broadband, buffering was less discernible. They said the ad was no longer running and would not be aired again.
Clearcast said they also believed that the claim was a statement of intent and did not believe that it was misleading.
The ASA considered that the statement "I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering and hello to a superfast broadband" would be interpreted by viewers as an objective claim that, by choosing the up to 30 Mb broadband service from Virgin, they would no longer experience buffering. Because we understood that users of the service might still experience buffering, we concluded that the claim was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 3.12 (Exaggeration).
We told Virgin not to state or imply that users of their broadband service would not experience buffering.