Usain's Virgin Media ad runs into trouble

18 September 2014

That Virgin Media advert with Usain Bolt in a variety of outfits has been banned after complaints from BT and Sky.

This one:

BT were first to get a bit narky, and complained to the ASA about the claim “you’ll be able to download five times faster than BT’s regular broadband”.

BT argued that the web page referred to in the Virgin Media ad did not provide sufficient information to verify the comparison, which is fair enough. Thanks for that BT, you little snitches.

The second complaint was made by both BT and Sky, arguing that Virgin Media’s claim about its speed was misleading, reckoning that it implied that customers would always be able to “download five times faster” than its rivals’ broadband customers.

The two companies argued that this wasn't the case at all, and was dependent on the speeds of that area.

In its defence against the first complaint, Virgin Media claimed that the web page referred to in the ads relied on up-to-date data. This included information on the average speeds of its service at peak time and over 24 hours. The website also provided Ofcom data on broadband speeds of its competitors.

Defending itself against the second complaint, Virgin Media argued that the claim “download five times faster than Sky and BT’s regular broadband” would not be understood to be an absolute figure. Which, thanks to the pesky smallprint in the ad, made clear the circumstances in which consumers would be able to download five times faster.

It's not the first Usain-based advert for Virgin Media to be banned. The ASA ruled that one in 2012 as  the company could not definitely deliver the superfast broadband. Full of fake promises. What are fake promises but LIES.

The ASA ruled against Virgin Media over both complaints.

Regarding the first complaint, the ASA said: “the information provided was not sufficient to ensure the details of the comparison could be verified”. In the second case, the ASA ruled that the claim “download five times faster than Sky and BT’s regular broadband” was misleading, and said the ad should have made it clear that the claim was based on an average, and not an absolute figure.

The ASA banned the ad from appearing again in its current form.


  • Peter T.
    My kids love the Usain Bolt football ad. They are convinced he says 'back of the shit.'
  • Dockers
    well given ive just joined virgin and was advertised upto 100mb download speeds and am currently getting on average 95-110mbps downloads its safe to say sky and BT can suck out

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