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Sky ad banned after BT complaint

Written by: Emma Lunn
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the advert for a Sky TV and broadband bundle as it said it was ‘misleading’ regarding the discount on offer.

The advert was broadcast on 2 September 2020 and included a voiceover which stated, “Power up your home with our award-winning superfast broadband and Sky TV. Sky broadband superfast is so reliable it’s Minion-proof. With our speed guarantee, you get the speed we promised or money back. So everyone can stream unmissable Sky TV. Like laugh-out-loud Sky original Brassic Two. So get super reliable superfast broadband and unmissable Sky TV, now for just £39 per month”.

On-screen text showed a crossed-out price of “£52” next to text which stated “£39 a month for 18 months. Setup £39.95”.

Small text at the bottom of the screen stated “Offer ends 01/10/20. Prices may change during contract. Sky fibre areas only. Separate 18m contracts. Sky TV (£21pm), Superfast (£18pm), Pay As You Talk (£0pm) – usually £52pm. Kit loaned at no cost.”

The complaint

Rival telecoms company BT complained to the advertising watchdog about the complaint. It said that the price of Sky TV and Broadband was less than £52 when bought together, and so challenged whether the ad’s savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.

In response, Sky said the figure of £52 referred to the cost of taking Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as separate standalone products.

The saving presented in the ad consisted of a £4 per month saving on the existing in-contract price of Sky Signature TV and a £9 per month saving on the existing in-contract price of Sky Superfast Broadband.

Therefore, it said the saving reflected the price difference when taking those products as a package, compared with taking the same products separately, at their standard in-contract prices which totalled £52 per month.

The ASA decision

But the ASA said that consumers were likely to think the crossed out “£52” next to text which stated “£39 a month for 18 months” would represent a genuine saving against the usual selling price of buying Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast together.

It pointed out that while it was possible to purchase Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast individually, purchasing both together formed a package which was priced differently.

The price of that package, however, both during and before the promotional period was £39.

The ruling said: “We therefore considered £39 was the established selling price of buying Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as a package. We considered that by comparing the combined promotional price of Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast to the normal selling price of purchasing those products individually, the ad implied consumers would save money by buying them together.

“However, because we considered the savings claim did not represent a genuine saving against a usual selling price, we concluded that it was likely to mislead and breached the code.”

Sky announced this week that bills would rise by up to £72 a year for some customers from April.

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