Phones4U’s scary ad confounds complainers while Talk Talk discovers the limits of advertising

For once the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has told complainants to get a life, by declining to ban this ad from mobile retailer Phones4U and agency WCRS.

Over 600 people complained that the ad was ‘offensive and unduly distressing.’ Well it certainly makes you jump.

But it was only shown after the 9pm ‘watershed’ so that’s OK.

Also in the telecoms market this ad, which isn’t scary at all, has won numerous plaudits for broadband provider Talk Talk and its agency CHI. Very nice it is too, you can’t go wrong with bits of Toy Story and The Righteous Brothers can you? Or can you?

It emerged yesterday that Talk Talk had comfortably topped the 2011 poll of most-complained-about UK ISP and this is a business that attracts loads of complaints. If memory serves, Talk Talk ran away with this one last year as well.

Talk Talk argues that its complaints-per-thousand (the currency the business uses) has reduced from 80 to around 50 in the course of the year. But it’s still not great, is it?

So is it a good idea to produce an ad aimed at the heartstrings when many of your customers want to kill you?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.