Sky forced to withdraw ‘best ever’ ad

Sky logoSky in the UK has withdrawn an advert in which it claimed that its current broadband bundles were its “best ever” broadband offer after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint from BT against the pay TV operator. 

Sky withdrew the ad after it failed to substantiate the claim that offer was its “best ever” and the ASA upheld the complaint, stating that the ad allowed the inference that the ‘best ever’ claim referred to Sky’s broadband service only and, in particular, an offer of “two years free Sky Broadband Unlimited”. In fact, said the ASA, it was not possible to take up Sky’s broadband offer without other services, including Sky TV.

“We considered that the claim ‘Our BEST EVER broadband’ would generally be interpreted as a comparison with Sky’s previous broadband offerings and consumers would understand that if they took the current offer, they would not have previously been able to receive a better overall deal. However, we understood that a previous ad from Sky stated ‘Our BEST EVER broadband offer’ with the headline ‘£100 [€125] reward when you join Sky TV online’ whereas the current ad offered a £50 reward. We considered that consumers would infer that the reward, as an incentive to take up the package, was part of the offer and overall package,” said the ASA.

“Because Sky’s overall package that included two years unlimited broadband had previously been offered with a higher reward price, we concluded that the claim “Our BEST EVER broadband offer” in this context had not been substantiated and was likely to mislead.”

According to the ASA, the ad breached Rule 3.11 and rule 3.7 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing prohibiting, exaggeration and the failure to have evidence to substantiate claims made in advance of making them.

“Of particular interest in this case is the fact that the ASA are policing use of the word ‘best’ ever more carefully,” said Alex Watt, who specialises in advertising and marketing issues at law firm Browne Jacobson.

“Whilst it is still possible that an advertiser may use ‘best’ in a way that denotes it considers that a product is the best in its subjective opinion, such use must be clearly puffery. It is not sufficient that an advertiser is referring to its own promotions; if the statement about those promotions is clearly an objective one it must still be accurate – and if the statement is that the promotion is the ‘best’ of its offers – then it must literally be the best of its offers.”