A national press ad for British Sky Broadcasting Ltd (Sky). The ad, seen on 14 July, stated "£50 reward when you join Sky TV with any Sky TV Bundles from £21.50 a month … Add Sky Sports for £24.50 a month and get free broadband … 2 YEARS FREE SKY BROADBAND … UNLIMITED". Text at the top right-hand corner stated "Our BEST EVER broadband offer".
British Telecommunications plc (BT), who believed Sky had previously promoted better offers, challenged whether the claim "Our BEST EVER broadband offer" was misleading and could be substantiated.
British Sky Broadcasting Ltd t/a Sky said that consumers would understand that the claim "Our BEST EVER broadband offer" related only to Sky's broadband and not its TV or Talk offers. They said that if they had intended the claim to apply to all their services, it would have claimed "our best ever offer" or "our best ever TV, Broadband and Talk offer". They said they had never promoted a broadband offer at a lower price or for a longer offer period than two years. They said previous ads had not promoted their broadband at a lower price or for a longer period than two years.
The ASA noted that part of the ad stated "our BEST EVER broadband offer" and, in a separate box, "2 YEARS FREE SKY BROADBAND UNLIMITED", therefore consumers may have assumed that those references related to Sky's broadband service only. However, we noted that the small print stated "To be eligible for 2 years free unlimited broadband, you must be and remain a Sky Broadband Unlimited, Sky Talk, Sky Line Rental and Sky TV with Sky Sports customer throughout the offer period … New customers must take all four services for a minimum 12 months: existing customers must take Sky Broadband Unlimited, Sky Talk and Sky Line Rental for a minimum 18 months". It was therefore not possible to take up Sky's broadband offer without other services, including Sky TV. We therefore considered that consumers would understand that the broadband offer related to only one aspect of the package promoted in the ad as a whole.
We considered that the claim "Our BEST EVER broadband" would generally be interpreted as a comparison with Sky's previous broadband offerings and consumers would understand that if they took the current offer, they would not have previously been able to receive a better overall deal. However, we understood that a previous ad from Sky stated "Our BEST EVER broadband offer" with the headline "£100 reward when you join Sky TV online" whereas the current ad offered a £50 reward. We considered that consumers would infer that the reward, as an incentive to take up the package, was part of the offer and overall package.
Because Sky's overall package that included 2 years unlimited broadband had previously been offered with a higher reward price, we concluded that the claim "Our BEST EVER broadband offer" in this context had not been substantiated and was likely to mislead.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sky to ensure their "best ever" claims were not undermined by previous offers.