A poster ad, for BT Infinity fibre optic broadband, appeared in Manchester and was headlined "MANCHESTER BUSINESSES. IT'S ARRIVED". Further text stated "Fibre optic broadband is here. BT Infinity for business". Small print included "Subject to availability. Requires a BT line and fibre compatible router such as the BT Business Hub …".
The complainant, who was told BT Infinity was not available for her business in central Manchester, challenged whether the claims were misleading and could be substantiated.
BT said that fibre penetration in the area at the time of the campaign was 47.88%, which was higher than the national average of 43.34%. They said 187 of the 489 postcodes in the M1 area and 140 of the 505 postcodes in M3 were served by cabinets with greater than 50% fibre enhancement. However, although it was not their intention, they could on reflection understand why the campaign could be misleading. They offered to work with the CAP Copy Advice team to ensure future advertising was not misleading and said they did not plan to use the claims again.
The ASA acknowledged BT did not intend to use the claims again. However, we noted the complainant was informed the advertised service was not available for her postcode and that it also was not available for many other postcodes in central Manchester at the time the ad appeared. While we noted the ad included the small print "Subject to availability", we considered the claims were likely to be interpreted as suggesting BT Infinity was generally available to businesses in Manchester. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
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 BT to ensure their future advertising did not state or imply that a service was available in a particular area if that was not the case.