‘Schoolboy error’ halts Virgin push

A Virgin Media direct mail campaign has been grounded after a “schoolboy error” triggered a successful challenge by rival Sky that it was not easily identifiable as a marketing communication.
The mailing, designed to get Sky customers to switch to Virgin, was sent out in a jiffybag to achieve cut-through. But although it featured the phrase “this package contains promotional material from Virgin Media”, Sky’s legal team recognised the text was far too small and lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority.
Virgin argued that in its view it was clear that the jiffybag – devised by agency Rapp – contained marketing communications and added that, because it was the only text which was placed vertically, it stood out from the other text on the jiffy bag.
It said that, in addition, text underneath the main copy stated “Please see inside for Legal Stuff”, which indicated the envelope contained promotional material.
But the ASA disagreed, ruling that the text was “considerably smaller than the main copy on the front of the envelope, was at 90 degrees to all the other text on the envelope, and was located far to the right of the envelope under a series of reference numbers”. It considered that the combination of those factors meant it was likely to be overlooked by consumers and that consumers would therefore be unaware that the envelope contained promotional material from Virgin.
Sky also complained about the content of the mailing, which promoted the picture quality and HD channels available on Virgin, but this was rejected.
The ASA ruled that the mailing must not appear again in its current form and told Virgin to ensure its ads made clear that they were marketing communications and that they were sent with commercial intent.

Print Friendly

Comments are closed.