ASA shouldn’t just ban BT’s duplicitous ads after the event it should pre-vet them

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has retrospectively banned a gaggle of ads by BT featuring the expensive talents of Ryan Reynolds, for making misleading broadband speed claims. Now there’s a thing.

One of them featured Reynolds dangling in the air from a helicopter, claiming he still had a broadband connection. It’s good to see BT serving people dangling from helicopters. Much better, it seems, than people living (as I do) in London who can only get a scratchy EE mobile signal. EE is now owned by BT. The same is doubtless true elsewhere in the UK.

Mr Reynolds can get a signal in the country though – or so we’re led to believe.

The BT ads from AMV BBDO claimed that people using its new Smart Hub had the country’s “most powerful Wi-Fi Signal.” When its rivals and members of the public complained it said this only referred to the “capabilities” of its broadband router, not the actual signal. A lot of bloody use that is. This is what is known in the wordsmith trade as a “weasel.”

BT, like most of its UK broadband rivals, is a disgrace. Its default tactic is to fib.

There was a time when the ASA could demand that regular offenders had to submit their ads for pre-vetting. It should do the same in future for BT and other regular offenders.

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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.