ASA UK Ban Sky Broadband TV Ad After BT Complaint on Pricing

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TV advert for one of ISP Sky Broadband's bundles with their Pay TV service, which featured the popular computer-animated Minions characters from Universal Pictures, after rival provider BT complained that the price offer was "misleading." At issue in the TV advert, which was aired during September 2020, was the pricing of their Superfast Broadband (FTTC/P) and Sky TV bundle, which at the time was being offered at a discounted rate of GBP39 per month for the first 18 months of service. Text underneath showed a crossed-out price of "GBP52" next to text which stated "GBP39 a month for 18 months.

Setup GBP39.95", while small text at the bottom of the screen defined this as "Sky TV (GBP21pm), Superfast (GBP18pm), Pay As You Talk (GBP0pm) - usually GBP52pm." BT complained that the ad should be considered "misleading" because they believed that the price of Sky TV and Broadband was already less than GBP52 when bought together. Sky countered that the price of GBP52 referred to the cost of taking Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast as separate standalone products (i.e. the saving reflected the price difference when taking those products as a package, rather than separately).

ASA Ruling (Ref: A20-1078483 Sky UK Ltd)

"While it was possible to purchase Sky Signature TV and Sky Broadband Superfast individually, we also understood that when purchased together those elements formed a package, which was priced differently. The price of that package, however, both during and before the promotional period was GBP39. We therefore considered GBP39 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.

The ruling appears to add some useful clarity over how pricing for bundles vs standalone products should be promoted in the future and that applies to all providers, not only Sky. Meanwhile Sky has been told not to run the advert in its current form again (this will have no impact on them since it finished ages ago) and to "ensure that future savings claims represented a genuine saving against a usual selling price."

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