ASA bans Vodafone’s ‘Gigafast’ advert after Virgin complaint

Mark Johnson's picture

UK mobile and internet provider Vodafone has had its super fast broadband ad campaign banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The advert appeared to suggest that users could access super fast broadband speeds of up to one gigabyte per second. 

This claim was was challenged by rival telco, Virgin Media, which claimed that “Gigafast Broadband” misleadingly implied that the entire service was capable of delivering speeds of one gigabit per second (Gbps).

Super fast broadband claims

The advert first appeared on the www.vodafone.co.uk website, on 15 November 2018, and featured a page that detailed their “Vodafone Gigafast” broadband service, which the ASA said featured the words: "Blast off at an average of 900Mbps …". 

The ASA said it considered that many consumers would likely understand the prefix ‘Giga’ to be a hyperbolic description of speed, and would therefore generally understand ‘Gigafast’ internet was very fast broadband. 

“However, we considered that a significant proportion of consumers would have sufficient knowledge of broadband terminology to understand Gigafast Broadband as a reference to a service capable of providing speeds of 1 Gbps (1000Mbps)” it said.

The ASA maintained that Vodafone Gigafast referred to a range of packages of which one was capable of achieving 1Gbps, with an average speed of 900Mbps. 

The product page featured the claim “Enjoy lightning-fast internet speeds with Vodafone Gigafast Broadband” which was qualified with the statement “… average speeds from 100Mbps to 900Mbps”. 

“We considered that because it was clear to all consumers that Vodafone Gigafast referred to a range of packages, one of which was capable of achieving 1Gbps, the claim was unlikely to mislead consumers” the ASA said.

Pricing was misleading

However, the ASA did take issue with the pricing claims for the promotion. A statement on the same page read “Great broadband doesn’t have to cost the earth - enjoy Vodafone Gigafast Broadband speeds for as little as £23 a month”. 

The ASA said it believed that the impression created was that consumers could buy a service that could achieve speeds of 1Gbps for just £23, when in fact only the average 100Mbps package could be purchased for £23, while the average 900Mbps package cost £48 a month. 

“We also considered that the later parts of the page did not make it sufficiently clear that the “from £23” claim did not refer to the 900Mbps package, but to the slower 100Mbps service”, the ASA said.

“The web page must not continue to appear in the form complained of. We told Vodafone Ltd not to imply that a package capable of achieving 1Gbps was available for £23 a month.”

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