A TV ad for Sky Broadband, seen on 12 January 2020. A voice-over stated, “The Sky Broadband January Sale is now on”, while text on the screen stated “Sky broadband SALE”, before the word “broadband” changed to “January”. The voiceover continued, “Save big on the UK’s lowest priced superfast broadband, with WiFi Guarantee or money back” Text on-screen stated “save big” and then “UK’s lowest price”, before changing to “Superfast Broadband” and beneath that, “With Wifi Guarantee or money back”. Smaller text at the bottom of the screen stated, “Compared to BT standard price for Superfast Broadband + Complete WiFi. To verify see …”. Text at the end of the ad showed the following list, with each item ticked: “Superfast Broadband”; “Wifi Guarantee”; and “Anytime calls”.
IssueThe complainant challenged whether the claim “The UK’s lowest price for superfast broadband” was misleading.
Sky UK Ltd said the claim used in the ad was “the UK’s lowest price superfast broadband with WiFi Guarantee or money back”. They said that although “UK’s lowest price” appeared on screen, as the full claim was said the screen changed quickly to the words “Superfast Broadband with WiFi Guarantee”, along with superimposed text which said “Requires Sky Broadband and Boost” and “Compared to BT standard price for Superfast broadband and Complete WiFi. To verify see sky.com/jansale”. They said the URL also further clarified that it was only BT and Sky who sold Superfast broadband with a WiFi guarantee and included a table which showed that Sky offered those products for less than the corresponding BT products.
Sky said that the final screen of the ad listed out the three products that had to be taken to get the price point featured, reiterating that the ad was for a package of products. They said at no point in the ad was Superfast broadband referenced without also referring to the WiFi guarantee. They felt the superimposed text was in line with BCAP Advertising Guidance on the use of superimposed text in television advertising.
They said that the ad needed to be considered from the perspective of the average consumer, who should be considered to be an interested viewer, who has made an effort to read the information in the superimposed text. They said the average consumer would engage with the ad to the extent that they would consider the individual claims and information contained in the superimposed text along with the overall impression given by all of those elements combined.
Clearcast said the claim in the ad was that Sky Broadband was “the UK’s lowest priced superfast broadband with WiFi Guarantee or money back”. They said that at the time of clearing the ad, they were shown substantiation by Sky that there were two providers offering a superfast broadband package including a money-back guarantee whereby if customers found their broadband service did not live up to expectations, they could claim a refund for some of the subscription. Of the two providers, Sky were offering the cheapest price.
Clearcast said they felt the ad made clear the nature of the comparison and worked closely with the advertiser to ensure that was the case. They said that at no point did the ad refer to offering the UK’s lowest price, in either graphics or the voice-over, without that immediately being followed by a clarification that it related to “Superfast broadband with WiFi Guarantee or money back”. The ad also provided a verification route where visitors to the website would have seen information explaining the basis of the comparison.
The ASA noted that the ad was presented as a series of short, sharp messages that appeared one after another in a sequence. Those messages were displayed visually and followed what was said by the voice-over. For instance, the ad opened with the message “Sky Broadband Sale” displayed on screen, while the voice-over stated, “The Sky broadband January sale is now on”.
Once the voice-over began providing further details about the sale, the on-screen message was removed and replaced by further text which stated “Save big”. The next three messages followed, again in line with what was being stated by the voice-over. The first stated “the UK’s lowest price”, which was replaced by the words “Superfast broadband”, beneath which followed the words “with WiFi Guarantee or money back”.
We considered that the use of staggered messaging at such a pace made it difficult to follow, and the voice-over’s intonation after having stated, “The UK’s lowest price Superfast broadband” suggested a pause between the claim and the information that followed. We therefore considered that consumers would understand that “WiFi Guarantee or money back” was a feature of the product, but that Sky were separately claiming to offer the UK’s lowest-priced superfast broadband.
We understood that the comparison related only to the superfast broadband products available on the market which offered a guarantee of a certain speed of WiFi in every room of a home or money-back on the subscription if that was not achieved. However, for the reasons stated above, we did not consider that to have been made clear in the ad, and while we recognised that the superimposed text remained on display throughout the ad and stated “Compared to BT standard price for Superfast Broadband + Complete WiFi”, we did not consider that to override the impression created that Sky were offering the UK’s lowest price broadband overall, particularly given that consumers’ attention was drawn to the main on-screen text through the manner by which it flew on and off screen.
In light of the above, and because it had not been demonstrated that Sky did offer the UK’s lowest-priced superfast broadband, we considered that the ad was misleading and therefore breached the Code. The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), 3.33 3.33 Advertisements that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, consumers about either the advertised product or service or the competing product or service. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors) and 3.39 3.39 Advertisements that include a price comparison must make the basis of the comparison clear. (Price comparisons).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Sky UK Ltd to ensure that they did not misleadingly imply that they offered the UK’s lowest-priced superfast broadband if that was not the case.