Sky advert banned for attacking competitor business

28 May 2008
Sky has had an advert for its telephone service banned by the advertising watchdog for “attacking” competitor BT and suggesting its pricing was unfair.

The national press advert stated: "Despite advertising price cuts, BT are giving 11 million customers a price rise today. Are you one of them? At Sky, we believe in real value and fair and honest pricing - that's why Sky customers can get call packages with Sky Talk that are a lot cheaper than either BT or Virgin Media, with no funny business.”

BT complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), claiming the ad was denigratory and implied it had intentionally misled customers by surreptitiously increasing prices.

The ASA originally rejected BT’s claim, but after the telecoms company appealed this decision it reversed its decision and banned Sky from using the advert or the claims within it again.

The advert ran last August, and played on the fact that BT had implemented price rises for millions of its customers not long after heavily promoting price cuts with adverts stating "We've cut the cost of call packages, yet again" and "our customers are set to save millions of pounds".

However, despite acknowledging this, the ASA found that Sky’s subsequent claim “we believe in real value and fair and honest pricing” was an implicit attack on BT’s business practices.

A spokeswoman for the ASA says: “BT asked for the advert to be looked at again and we decided that the sub-message went too far in terms of denigration.”

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