A TV ad for Sky, seen on 2 September 2020, included a voiceover which stated, “Power up your home with our award-winning superfast broadband and Sky TV. Sky broadband superfast is so reliable it’s Minion-proof. With our speed guarantee, you get the speed we promised or money back. So everyone can stream unmissable Sky TV. Like laugh-out-loud Sky original Brassic Two. So get super reliable superfast broadband and unmissable Sky TV, now for just £39 per month”. Towards the end of the ad, on-screen text stated “Super reliable”, “Superfast Broadband” and “Unmissable Sky TV”. Text underneath showed a crossed out price of “£52” next to text which stated “£39 a month for 18 months. Setup £39.95”. Small text at the bottom of the screen stated “Offer ends 01/10/20. Prices may change during contract. Sky fibre areas only. Separate 18m contracts. Sky TV (£21pm), Superfast (£18pm), Pay As You Talk (£0pm) – usually £52pm. Kit loaned at no cost”.
IssueBT, who believed that the price of Sky TV and Broadband was less than £52 when bought together, challenged whether the ad’s savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
Sky UK Ltd said that the “was” price of £52 referred to the cost of taking Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as separate standalone products. The saving presented in the ad consisted of a £4 per month saving on the existing in-contract price of Sky Signature TV and a £9 per month saving on the existing in-contract price of Sky Superfast Broadband. Therefore, they said the saving reflected the price difference when taking those products as a package, compared with taking the same products, separately, at their standard in-contract prices which totalled £52 per month.
Sky said that consumers were likely to be familiar with the concept of receiving a discounted price when taking multiple products at the same time, compared to the price that would be payable if taking those same products separately. Sky provided pricing and sales data for their Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast products. Clearcast said that during the offer period the price of the advertised products was £39 per month in total. That consisted of £21 per month for Sky Signature TV, £18 per month for Sky Broadband Superfast, and no charge for the Sky Talk Pay as you Talk phone package, which were all on 18-month contracts.
Clearcast said that the standard in-contract pricing for the products advertised was £52 per month in total. That consisted of £25 per month for Sky Signature TV, £27 per month for Sky Broadband Superfast, and no charge for the Sky Talk Pay as you Talk phone package, which were again all on 18-month contracts.
The ASA considered consumers were likely to understand the crossed out “£52” next to text which stated “£39 a month for 18 months” to represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of buying Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast together, at the time the ads appeared. We understood that the promotional price of £39 presented in the ad was based on the combined saving from buying the Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast products separately. The promotion, however, was based on a price of £21 (reduced from £25) for Sky Signature TV and £18 (reduced from £27) for Sky Broadband Superfast. The saving of £13, presented in the ad for those products, we understood was based on the price of £52 when buying both of them separately.
While it was possible to purchase Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast individually, we also understood that when purchased together those elements formed a package, which was priced differently. The price of that package, however, both during and before the promotional period was £39. We therefore considered £39 was the established selling price of buying Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as a package. We considered that by comparing the combined promotional price of Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast to the normal selling price of purchasing those products individually, the ad implied consumers would save money by buying them together. However, because we considered the savings claim did not represent a genuine saving against a usual selling price, we concluded that it was likely to mislead and 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), 3.9 3.9 Broadcasters must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that the audience is 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), 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification) and 3.18 3.18 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product or service depicted in the advertisement. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sky UK Ltd to ensure that future savings claims represented a genuine saving against a usual selling price.