The row centres on two separate mailshots sent by Virgin promoting the company’s broadband service, under the headline: “Over 80% of your neighbourhood is connected.”
They triggered two separate complaints from recipients who believed Virgin had exaggerated its coverage in their particular area, even though the small print had explained there may be slight variations in coverage in each postcode sector; the smallest segment for door-drop targeting.
After an investigation, the ASA banned both mailshots, sparking fears that unless 100% of door-drop recipients can access an advertised product or service further bans could follow.
And Graham Dodd, managing director of the Letterbox Consultancy, who has been in the industry more than 40 years, has interpreted the ruling to mean the ASA views the medium as “wasteful”. He is now calling on the regulator to identify what level of wastage is acceptable.
Dodd said: “[It is] disappointing to see the door-drop medium branded as ‘wasteful’ by the ASA, when planning opportunities exist which potentially eliminate such levels of wastage.
“Planning at postcode unit level – 15 to18 households – is available and can be implemented through two distribution options. It is unlikely that ‘wastage’ can be completely eliminated, but it can certainly be reduced from the average 20% portrayed in the report and is far more likely to be of single digit proportions.
“If the ASA has made such a judgement, can it also identify what level of ‘wastage’ is acceptable? Technologies are capable of meeting such criteria, maintaining the creative concept of neighbourhood marketing.”
Virgin door-drop activity hits buffers
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