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SBD Global/July 26, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship
Virgin Media's Usain Bolt TV Campaign Banned By U.K.'s Advertising Watchdog
Published July 26, 2012
MISLEADING AD: MARKETING WEEK's Sebastian Joseph reported that the ASA ruled that the ad "must not appear again in its current form." The ASA said, “Because we understood that users of the service might still experience buffering, we concluded that the claim was misleading.” The advertising watchdog warned Virgin Media not to “state or imply” that users of broadband service would not experience buffering in future campaigns (MARKETINGWEEK.co.uk, 7/25). THE REGISTER's Kelly Fiveash wrote that this is "an expensive mistake" for Virgin Media. The company spent "a whopping" £52.6M (81.3M) on marketing costs in its first quarter. Much of that was spent on TV, print, online and billboard ads "featuring Bolt wearing a fake gingery-blond beard." Also, the ASA slapped Virgin Media for "failing to substantiate claims it made on its website about the company's download speeds" (THEREGISTER.co.uk, 7/25).
LIGHTNING BOLT: The DAILY EXPRESS reported that Bolt and comedian Stephen Fry have helped Virgin Media "post record-beating second-quarter sales." Virgin said that its recent TV ad campaigns, which also star Chair Richard Branson, to promote its superfast broadband speeds and TiVo on-demand TV service had "driven up revenues" 4.2% to just over £1B ($1.5B). TiVo added 261,700 customers over the period to 938,000 and is "on track" to pass 1 million this week, helped by the "expected demand to watch the Olympics" (EXPRESS.co.uk, 7/25).