BT Vision rapped over misleading Sky ad

Wednesday, December 23 2009, 12:20 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

The Advertising Standards Authority has rapped BT Vision over a misleading advert which implied that certain movies were available on its platform before Sky's service.

In the TV ad, a voiceover claimed that BT Vision customers can "choose from new film releases like Slumdog Millionaire before they're shown on Sky Movies".

In response, Sky and two members of the public complained that the ad misleadingly suggested that certain films were available on BT Vision before Sky. In fact new releases are available in Sky Box Office, Sky's on-demand service, at the same time as BT Vision.

The satellite firm further objected to the comparison between Sky Movies and BT Vision, because it involved comparing a broadcast service with an on-demand offering.

As Sky Movies is the dominant brand for films on digital TV, BT Vision subsequently argued that the comparison was fair because it helped people interpret the ad's literal meaning. The firm said that an on-screen text with the advert fully explained that the movies were simultaneously available on Sky Box Office.

While BT Vision accepted that Sky Box Office was a more appropriate like-for-like comparison with its own movies service, the operator said it merely wanted to inform customers that they could access new releases without subscribing to a movies channel.

Advertising body Clearcast, which approved the ad, said that it did not see any potential to mislead because a direct comparison was being drawn between BT Vision's on-demand service and Sky Movies, not Sky Box Office.

However, the ASA ruled that most customers would not be able to make the distinction between Sky Movies and Sky Box Office. The organisation said that placing an on-screen message to clarify the comparison was not enough to avoid misleading viewers and so the advert must not be run again in its current form.

"We considered that, because in terms of the on-demand availability of new release films, the most similar Sky service to BT Vision was Sky Box Office, whereas the comparison drawn was between BT Vision and Sky Movies, the ad was likely to mislead by giving viewers the impression that they would be able to see new movies more quickly with BT Vision than with Sky when that was not the case," said the ASA in its ruling.

"We noted on-screen text stating 'New release films are available on Sky Box Office at the same time as BT Vision' but concluded that was insufficient to remove the overall impression that new release films were available more quickly with BT than with Sky. We concluded that the comparison was likely to mislead."