ASA Adjudication on Virgin Media Ltd
28 July 2010
Computers and telecommunications
Number of complaints:
A promotional e-mail, for Virgin Media, had the subject heading “An important message from Virgin Media”. It was headlined “What great stuff could you be missing out on?”. Text below stated “We’ve noticed you’re not currently registered to receive information from us and we just wanted to let you know that now that Virgin Mobile is part of the big Virgin Media family, you can get your hands on even more exclusive deals. All you need to do is tell us you want to hear about them! … As a Virgin Media customer, you’ve got the chance to bag some brilliant perks, as well as extra useful stuff to help you keep on top of your services. So that you get the best value from us, we’ll keep you up to date with exclusive offers as well as making sure you’re up to speed with the latest product news. Plus, we’ll tell you about our reward schemes and give you first dibs on V Festival tickets! And there’s lots of other cool stuff too … To hear about offers, news and the latest from Virgin Media simply register to hear from us. And don’t worry we won’t give your details to anyone else. As a thank you, you’ll be entered into our prize draw to win a free HTC HD2* phone … If you’re happy as you are and don’t want to hear from us, you don’t need to do anything, we won’t change anything unless you tell us to … ”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad breached the CAP code, because he had previously asked Virgin Media Ltd (Virgin) not to send him marketing communications by e-mail.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Virgin said the e-mail was sent to announce that Virgin Mobile had become part of the Virgin Media group, because customers might want to opt in to receiving marketing communications once they heard that news. They said the e-mail was not a marketing communication and contained none of the calls to action that were characteristic of such. They needed to make the announcement to customers who may not have been aware of press announcements and would not have been notified via marketing communications; Virgin said they were entitled, under the Data Protection Act, to contact customers in infrequent situations where there had been business developments to ensure their data remained up-to-date and accurate.
The ASA noted Virgins argument that the e-mail was not a marketing communication but was an update to customers who might otherwise not have been aware of the change that had taken place. Because, however, it did not include only information about the change but included prize incentives and text such as "What great stuff could you be missing out on?", " ... you can get your hands on even more exclusive deals" and "As a thank you, youll be entered into our prize draw to win a free HTC HD2* phone ... ", we considered the e-mail was a marketing communication. We noted Virgin did not have the complainants consent to send him marketing communications by e-mail. We therefore concluded that Virgins database practice breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code clauses 43.9 and 43.13c (Database practice).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Virgin to ensure they did not send marketing communications by e-mail to consumers who had asked not to receive them.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)