A Virgin Media press ad has been banned after the advertising watchdog ruled that the “small print” at the bottom of the ad – displaying qualifying text and terms and conditions – was virtually illegible without a magnifying glass.
In November last year, the company had direct mail campaign banned after a “schoolboy error” triggered a successful challenge by rival Sky that it was not easily identifiable as a marketing communication.
The latest ad, for broadband services was headlined “Faster for a fiver”. and stated “Our up to 30Mb broadband is four times faster than the UK average.^ And it’s all yours for just £5 a month for the first three months, then £18.50 after that. Virgin phone line applies”.
At the bottom of the ad was a panel of small print which ran to nearly 200 words, including “18 month minimum contract applies” and “standard prices apply after first three months. Further legal stuff applies. Go to virginmedia.com for details”.
One complainant, who did not believe the small print was legible, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Virgin insisted that the text – in 5.8 point –was well within that range which they believed to be clearly visible to a normally-sighted person. However, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the size of the text, in combination with the low quality of the print, meant it was not clearly visible to a normally-sighted person.
It concluded that the ad was therefore misleading and ruled that it should not run again in its current form.
‘Schoolboy error’ halts Virgin push