Ad description

A TV ad for BT, seen in February 2016, stated in both the voice-over and large on-screen text “The biggest ever BT sale is now on. We’ve cut more prices than ever before. Get 40% off Superfast Fibre Optic BT Infinity and unlimited UK weekend calls for £7.50 a month. Plus you can add our fantastic TV service including 20 must see channels you won’t find on Freeview for £2.99 a month. That’s a big 50% off and it’s just a 12 month contract …”.

Text at the bottom of the ad, which remained on screen throughout the ad, stated “prices/content may change. 75% UK coverage. £6.95 delivery. £49 infinity activation/£59 with BT TV. £26/mth with BT TV from mnth [sic] 13. New BT Broadband customers. 12 month term. 40GB usage. 01 02 03 calls. Redial after 60 mins. Previously £12.50/mth. Payable by DD. Min line speed and computer spec. Subject to availability. Terms apply”.


Eight viewers challenged whether the ad was misleading, because the on-screen text at the bottom of the ad, which contained significant conditions to the offer, was not clearly legible.


BT said the ad was cleared by Clearcast and the on-screen text complied with BCAP Guidance for size and style and the text was held for 40 seconds. They believed the on-screen text was legible and in line with the guidance.

Clearcast confirmed that the on-screen text was in line with the relevant BCAP guidance. They said the text was held for 40 seconds, which was four seconds longer than required by the guidance. It was 17 TV lines high although the guidance only required white text on a black background to be 14 TV lines high. The font was the advertising agency’s standard font and had been used on all previous BT ads.


Not upheld

The ASA understood that the complainants found the large amount of text at the bottom of the screen, which contained qualifications to the advertised offer, difficult to read. The BCAP Code required qualifying text to be presented clearly and BCAP published specific guidance on the standards that superimposed text should meet with regard to size, duration of hold and style of presentation. It was a prerequisite for clearance by Clearcast that the text met those minimum requirements.

We acknowledged that the text at the bottom of the screen was lengthy, but it nonetheless remained on screen throughout the 40-second ad. The ad included additional large on-screen text as part of the visuals, which we understood had also been taken into account when the duration of hold was assessed, and the length of hold for all the on-screen text was longer than BCAP guidance required. The on-screen qualifying text was three TV lines higher than required and shown as white on a plain black background, which was of sufficient contrast to make the text clear.

We considered that on-screen text was legible and the size, appearance and the length of time on screen was sufficient to allow viewers to read it. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead viewers.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules  3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  (Misleading advertising) and  3.11 3.11 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
BCAP has published Guidance on Superimposed Text to help television broadcasters ensure compliance with rule  3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.  . The guidance is available at:
 (Qualification), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.


3.1     3.11    

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