Virgin Media in dock once more

Another week, another scolding for Virgin Media from the ad watchdog, this time over a mailing which offered a half price deal but failed to mention consumers would have to pay top dollar for their phone line to get connected.
Given the volume of mailings that Virgin sends out – it is estimated to spend nearly £60m on direct marketing through agency Rapp – the company will no doubt expect a certain amount of flack.
Yet its latest campaign, promoting Virgin Media’s “massive savings on TV, broadband, calls and mobile” managed to break the advertising code on no less than nine counts.
The Advertising Standards Authority launched an investigation following a single complaint that the mailing was misleading, because it was only when they read the small print that they realised that the half price discounts on offer were “not applicable to line rental”.
In its defence, Virgin maintained that, as there was no call to action on the front page, consumers would have to open the booklet, where the offers were clarified, to read the full details.
The ASA, however, was not convinced, ruling that because most consumers reading the claims on the front cover of the booklet would understand that the half-price saving applied to all the packages within, therefore the ad was misleading and in breach of the Code.
The full “charge sheet” shows Virgin breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (misleading advertising), 3.7 (substantiation), 3.10 (qualification), 3.18 and 3.21 (prices), 8.2 (sales promotions), 8.17, and 8.17.1 (significant conditions for promotions).
This is the second complaint against Virgin Media in as many weeks; last week the ASA banned a door-drop campaign for the company after ruling it had massaged its figures over how many homes were connected in a given area.

Related stories
Virgin door-drop activity hits buffers
ASA under fire over door-drop ‘waste’
Bolt runs into bother again at Virgin
Virgin hit by ban double whammy
Small print cock-up halts Virgin ad
Sky forces Virgin to axe TiVo ads

 

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