ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: ITV Digital
346 Queenstown Road
17 October 2001
Astra Marketing Ltd and British Sky Broadcasting objected to a direct mailing for a digital television provider. It claimed "Now you can improve the view on the inside of your house - without ruining the outside. You see, with ONdigital, you won't need a big dish or a messy hole full of cables ... It's a question of 'I saw' versus 'eyesore' ... With ONdigital, you'll be able to satisfy your hunger for great telly without bringing down the tone of the neighbourhood." The direct mailing showed a painting of a thatched cottage. One half of the cottage had a satellite dish on the front wall and was set in a basic, litter strewn and unkempt garden. The other half of the cottage had window boxes full of different coloured flowers, climbing plants up the front of the house and a garden with many and various coloured flowers. The complainants objected that:
1. the satellite dish in the painting was misleading because it showed a size and type of dish that would not be installed in a residential property; and
2. the painting and copy denigrated satellite dish providers.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Complaints upheld
The advertisers believed the dish on the cottage was typical of many dishes seen on residential properties. They said the size of the dish a customer needed depended on how near to the centre of the satellite footprint the property on which it was to be placed was. They believed dishes in places with poor satellite reception, such as Scotland, would be about 190 cm in diameter, like the dish in the picture, and considerably larger than those in London. The advertisers sent some pictures of varying sizes of satellite dishes on residential properties. The advertisers asserted that the direct mailing was not misleading.
The Authority considered the examples of satellite dishes on residential properties sent by the advertisers were inconclusive and did not show that the dish in the picture was representative of digital satellite dishes installed on residential properties. The Authority acknowledged the advertisers' belief that dishes in places on the outskirts of the satellite footprint were likely to require larger dishes but considered that most households were not on the edges of satellite footprints. Furthermore it considered that, although analogue satellite television might require a larger dish, digital satellite television normally required a dish between 45 cm and 65 cm in diameter. It considered that the advertisers had misleadingly depicted an unrepresentative size of digital satellite dish. The Authority concluded that the mailing was likely to mislead and told the advertisers to more accurately reflect the size of the digital satellite dishes in future advertising.
2 Complaints upheld
The advertisers said that there were planning and other restrictions on the use of dishes, which they believed suggested dishes were generally recognised as undesirable and detracted from the appearance of buildings. They asserted that the direct mailing was sent to people who they believed would be concerned about having satellite dishes on their homes, such as those who lived in listed buildings, in places of outstanding natural beauty and who subscribed to home and lifestyle magazines. They asserted that the direct mailing was intended to show that a dish was required to receive a satellite signal, that dishes were not pretty and did not enhance the appearance of a property. They claimed that the need to put a dish on a property was a primary factor for consumers choosing not to subscribe to Sky and that was especially true for the audience of the direct mailing. The advertisers asserted that the direct mailing did not denigrate satellite dish providers.
The Authority accepted that there were planning restrictions on the placement of satellite dishes in some situations but considered that most of those were practical, not aesthetic. The Authority considered that, although the target audience might be concerned about a satellite dish on their property, they were equally likely to be concerned about an aerial. The Authority noted that reception of the advertisers' service was affected by size and placement of aerial and non-satellite digital providers recommended that a rooftop aerial was installed. It noted that a rooftop aerial was not depicted on the side of the house that, by implication, was the ITV Digital side. The Authority considered that the size of the satellite dish in the mailing and the appearance of that side of the house and garden implied that homes with satellite dishes were unsightly. It concluded that the mailing was denigratory to providers of satellite dishes. The Authority advised the advertisers not to repeat the approach.