The online ads featured the 100m Olympic champion impersonating Virgin founder Richard Branson by saying: “Hi, I’m Richard Branson and I’m doubling everyone’s broadband speeds”, and then: “My customers already have the UK’s fastest broadband, but they’d get a lot more enjoyment out of it if I doubled their speeds. So that’s what I’m going to do for over 4 million Virgin Broadband customers. Because I can. See when I’m doubling yours.”
However, in the small print it was revealed that the offer applied only to cabled areas and added that “100Mb customers will see a price cut instead of speed doubling”.
BSkyB and two members of the public complained that the ads were misleading.
Virgin claimed existing 100Mb customers had been notified that their speed would not be doubled while the ad also made it clear that the speed doubling programme would take 18 months to complete.
But the watchdog disagreed, branding the ad misleading, ruling that it must not appear again in its current form.
It is the third time the Usian Bolt campaign has been banned. In May the ASA blasted Virgin for using fine print that was so small it was impossible to read in a newspaper ad under the strapline “Faster for a fiver”.
Meanwhile the watchdog also ruled an ad from the same campaign was misleading for failing to include compulsory line rental in the price of a telecoms package. However, this ruling is now the subject of an independent review.
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