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Virgin Media cannot claim its services won’t buffer

Because they can
Wed Jul 25 2012, 11:24
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VIRGIN MEDIA has been told that it cannot claim that its customers will not experience the pain of buffering when watching some of its content.

Why, you ask. Well, because it isn't the case. That's the decision of the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), a body that ruled that an advert that includes Usain Bolt and the claim about no buffering can no longer be shown in its present form.

Rival firm BT complained about the claim "I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering" and asked whether it was misleading because it implied that Virgin Media broadband customers would not experience buffering.

Virgin Media conceded to the ASA that there are numerous causes of buffering, adding that there were some that as a service provider they would have no control over. However, they said that the claim was just dismissable puff.

"Virgin said they considered the claim 'I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering' to be puffery and that Usain Bolt, in the character of Richard Branson, was expressing a wish that he would like everyone to be able to say bye-bye to buffering and not claiming that they actually would," said the ASA.

The ASA, which is designed to bring standards into the smoke and mirrors world of advertising, did not have much time for that argument, and said that the statement would suggest to customers that when Virgin Media says that users will not experience buffering it actually means it, and is telling the truth.

"The ASA considered that the statement 'I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering and hello to a superfast broadband' would be interpreted by viewers as an objective claim that, by choosing the up to [30Mbit/s] broadband service from Virgin, they would no longer experience buffering," it said in its judgment.

"Because we understood that users of the service might still experience buffering, we concluded that the claim was misleading." You won't see that advert on television again.

The ASA confirmed that it is looking at another advert from Virgin Media that makes similar claims and includes a Dr Who.

"We have received complaints about a Virgin ad featuring David Tennant which makes claims that customers "could say bye-bye to buffering with superfast fibre-optic broadband,", said a spokesperson.

"We are currently assessing those complaints, and determining whether or not to investigate the ad." µ


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