Ban on BT ads offering 'free' YouView box

A BT ad offering a 'free' YouView box worth £299 has been banned for misleading customers.

The Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints about the advertisement that required signing up to a contract and paying £5 for TV channels; £15.45 a month for phone line rental and a £49 'activation charge' for customers new to its TV service.Four complaints were made about the advert, which appeared in print, TV and email format. Two were upheld while two were rejected.

The main issue was whether the claim that the YouView box was "free" was misleading, because a number of financial commitments were required in order to obtain it – effectively cancelling out any savings.

Misleading
The ASA ruled that the adverts would have been acceptable if another provider had received the money from the activation charge in order to offer the service. Its ruling stated: "We considered that the activation fee was in effect linked to the YouView box and we concluded that the claim that the box was 'free' was misleading."

BT defended the advert, telling ASA that the activation fee "applied to the BT TV service, rather than to the YouView box, and that customers did not have to take the YouView box, which was separate to the calls, broadband and TV packages that customers must take to be eligible for the 'free' box."

Breach of code
BT has come under fire from the ASA before for misleading customers. In 2010, a national press advert purporting "instant" video and music downloads with its BT Infinity service was banned as some delays would still be experienced.

In 2009, the ASA upheld challenges brought by Sky against BT – who claimed that its BT Vision service showed new film releases before Sky Movies. ASA ruled that the advert was misleading because on-demand films were shown at the same time on Sky Box Office as BT Vision.

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Advertising's most sexist ads
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Ban on BT ads offering 'free' YouView box

"A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke". Only a woman? Feminists would take issue at the "only" adverb, and the idea that any human being of either gender is inferior to a cancer-inducing product from Benson & Hedges.


Don't blame the ad men completely. That ad tag line is actually the evil work of one Rudyard Kipling. From a poem he penned called "The Bethrothed".

Now this is a creepy ad: "I have created a playground for men's hands." Armando Ghedini created wigs "for other men who adore women". This wig was also wash'n'wear. Nice.


The thoughtful signor Ghedini had also designed a wig to be combed in any direction, "for men to tousle". Men, he said, become "inspired" by women who wore it and women, Ghedini added, were grateful.

VW advertising has often been self-deprecating and clever. In 1960s America their ads were phenomenally successful, persuading thousands of Americans to ditch large thirsty home-made offerings for the company's cramped, noisy but economical Beetle.

Their ads flattered the intelligence of the American middle class. But this ad depicing a bashed-up VW bug? "Sooner or later your wife will drive home one of the best reasons for owning a Volkswagen". Not their female customers, clearly. What were they thinking?

Similarly, Easyjet also thought that a pair of ample breasts would be enough to help ticket sales. This ad dates back to 2003 when George Bush, Dick Cheney and Tony Blair were getting very animated about those hard-to-find weapons of mass destruction.


This particular ad garnered around 200 complaints to the Advertising Council and also escaped any ticking off. And plenty of publicity of course. It all worked out beautifully for Easyjet. Tits away, Stelios.

Car manufacturers and cigarette companies are regular sexist offenders. Here Italian typewriter maker Olivetti peddles the idea that young women are passive, servants ready to transcribe boardroom minutes at a moment's notice.


Where are Olivetti now in the global brand firmament?. Join the Olivetti girls. At ease, ladies, please.

Melon distributor F.H.Hogue of California thought his melons were pretty buxom and wanted to spread the word. Ho-ho, Mr Hogue.

There are plenty more examples and we'll be looking at more anther time. In the meantime let's leave with a woman knowing exactly where she should be (in the home, honey).

Here is a 1970s shoe ad from a brand called Weyenberg. You may find it hard to track down a Weyenberg shoe today however.

However, not all car makers followed such a well-worn patronising path. Back in the 1970s Honda in the US reversed the idea that women always needed cars with simple, easy-to-drive automatic gearboxes.


Despite offering both a manual and auto gearbox, neither was "a women's car" Honda stated firmly. Note the jaunty hat and jeans. A stab at selling to the US lesbian community? Or an independent straight girl fed up with stereotypes. Good for Honda.

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Ban on BT ads offering 'free' YouView box

The lone cowboy quadrupled sales of Philip Morris' Marlboro cigarettes when he first appeared in the 1950s. Despite increasing evidence from mid-century scientists of health risks associated with smoking, Marlboro Man was influential in persuading the public to continue to light up.

Remember the little mascots for Robertson's jam? People sent away in their millions to the jam makers for golly brooches and other golly-related memorabilia. When Golly retired in 2002, the official reason was that children had lost interest in him. But many suspected the forces of political correctness were at play. Over 20m gollies were sent out by Robertson's in their heyday. Many have become valued collectors' items.

A boy and girl in ragged clothes catch the smell of Bisto gravy on the breeze and sigh longingly "Ahhh... Bisto." The advert, drawn by cartoonist Wilf Owen, first appeared in 1919. The gambit aimed to capture an 'Oliver Twist' quality, appealing to the 'urchin' segment of the working class market.

The yellow talking cartoon bird made his calls to advertise Post Office Telecommunications (now BT) perched on telephone wires. His catchphrase was "Make someone happy with a phone call". Bernard Cribbens provided the voice.

Beatrice Bellman was a popular character from a series of TV adverts by British Telecom, famously played by Maureen Lipman. She was a stereotypical Jewish mother and grandmother, with a heart of gold. Her adventures mostly involved nagging her long-suffering family over the phone. The name Beattie was a play on 'BT', as British Telecom later became known.

Any BP ad showing green fields and clean seas. Nowadays inappropriate for reasons too obvious to outline here.

Toilet paper makers Andrex have chosen to digitise their iconic puppy for the first time since the dog hit our screens in 1972. The series of more than 120 adverts featuring a live puppy made even something as utilitarian as toilet paper appear cute - no mean feat.

A blue floating shost-like creature with a long pointed nose, he featured in an educational animation programme created by Nick Spargo for British Gas in 1975. Willo's job was to extol the virtues of gas. Actor Kenneth Williams provided the voice. Willo later went on to great success in his own TV series, before retiring into obscurity.

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