Complaints made by UK ISPs BT and Virgin Media have today resulted in the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banning a TV advert for Sky Broadband, which was found to have been “misleading” in its claims that their tech team could easily boost WiFi throughout your home with a simple action.
The issue stemmed from a major TV advert that was run in July 2018 (see below), which featured characters from the film The Incredibles 2. The advert depicted a Sky employee telling one of those characters, Dash, that he’d “made some adjustments and boosted your Sky Wi-Fi throughout your house” whilst holding a tablet which showed an image of a home filling up with signal.
The advert then proceeded to give the impression that Sky Broadband’s Wi-Fi signal could now be received in all areas of the home. As most people know, improving home WiFi tends to require a little more effort and thought than that (e.g. installing additional extenders or mesh / repeater systems and changing how your hardware is positioned etc.).
Naturally BT and Virgin Media challenged whether the claim “Boosted your Sky Wi-Fi” was misleading and could be substantiated. Meanwhile Sky felt as if consumers would understand from the term “boosted” that the service had been improved and that the comparison was between the service before and after the Sky Tech Team engineer visited.
Additionally Sky said that there was nothing in the ad which stated or suggested that the Sky Q Hub router could provide a “boosted” service without the use of additional equipment. They added that their team could however improve the Wi-Fi signal by “relocating the router, installing a wireless booster, ensuring existing wireless boosters were placed in optimal locations, replacing faulty equipment, upgrading the router to a newer model [and] relocating the master socket” etc.
We considered that the graphic of the house, in addition to the scenes of Dash receiving Wi-Fi throughout the house, implied that Wi-Fi signal could be received in all areas of the home.
We noted that the ad did not make clear what the technician had done to improve the Wi-Fi and achieve that improved coverage, and the voice-over never referenced the Sky Tech Team or the services they provided. Instead, the ad ended with the voice-over stating, “Sky Broadband. Incredible Wi-Fi around your home”, which we considered indicated to consumers that the ad was promoting Sky’s broadband products rather than the Tech Team’s signal-improvement service.
We considered that those services were not sufficiently emphasised in the ad to counter the overriding impression that Sky had made changes to their broadband service (as distinct from changes made inside the property by their Tech Team service) resulting in enhanced Wi-Fi which could be received throughout the home without the need for additional equipment provided by the Tech Team service, such as boosters.
We considered that because ad (a) suggested that Sky had made changes to their broadband service resulting in enhanced Wi-Fi, when that was not the case, we concluded that ad (a) was misleading.
As usual the original advert was pulled (it’s long since stopped running so that’s irrelevant now) and the ASA told Sky Broadband to in future “make clear which service was being advertised and not to imply that they had made changes to their broadband service (as distinct from changes made inside the property by their Tech Team service) resulting in enhanced Wi-Fi if that was not the case.”
Separately Virgin Media also made a couple of additional complaints against this advert and a separate one for their general WiFi and service performance claims (e.g. “superfast in the kitchen” and “Incredible Wi-Fi reaching through your home“). Neither of those were upheld by the ASA as they were very generalised and often linked more to the Incredibles 2 marketing than service performance.