TalkTalk makes mockery of broadband ad ban
TalkTalk is side-stepping an ads watchdog ban on promoting the “UK’s safest broadband” by instead advertising the “UK’s safest broadband connection”.
The ISP was yesterday rebuked by the Advertising Standards Authroity (ASA) for using the “UK’s safest broadband” claim to describe its HomeSafe service, which filters adult content and sites hosting malware at the network level.
Opinion – Barry Collins
If any more proof were needed that advertising self-regulation is a miserable failure, this is it. Not only was TalkTalk merely handed the routine punishment of “not running the ads” again when it was found guilty of misleading advertising, it avoids even that banal punishment by adding a meaningless word to its claim.
The ASA’s not only toothless, it’s being made to look foolish by the companies it’s supposed to be regulating. It’s high time it was scrapped and replaced with a regulator advertisers respect, and even fear.
In its adjudication against TalkTalk, the ASA said that “customers could interpret safest as referring to a number of features, such as virus protection or protection from hacking, and that HomeSafe only offered a basic range of security features”.
The ASA also argued that “consumers were unlikely to understand what ‘network-level security’ meant” and that “it could be easily misinterpreted to refer to other features such as the security of the wireless connection,” before banning TalkTalk from using the claim again.
New wording “approved”
A TalkTalk spokesman later told PC Pro that it had won the watchdog’s approval for the new wording. “We put in our proposed new line – the UK’s safest broadband connection – and it [the ASA] gave us the green light.”
However, a spokesman for the ASA categorically denied it had given the ISP permission to use the new phrase, although claimed it may have sought advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which is independently administered by the ASA. “We don’t approve advertising copy, that’s not our role,” an ASA spokesman told us.
We see this as a complete waste of time, as far as the ASA is concerned
The ASA spokesman added that it might still take action against TalkTalk for using the revised “UK’s safest broadband connection” claim, even if CAP approved the new wording.
TalkTalk denied it was making a mockery of the advertising regulator, although the spokesman agreed that consumers would see no difference between the phrases “broadband” and “broadband connection”.
“We thought the ‘UK’s safest broadband’ was accurate,” the spokesman said. “We are clearly the safest way for families to get online – far and away beyond what BT [who complained to the ASA about the original advert] is doing.”
“We see this as a complete waste of time, as far as the ASA is concerned,” he added.