ASA condemns Virgin Energy ad

Virgin Energy has been forced to withdraw a press ad for its new gas and electricity service after four competitors complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Powergen, Scottish Power, Yorkshire Electricity and Seeboard claimed the ad, which urged customers “to take gas and electricity power out of those institutions that, for too long, have grossly overcharged for basic needs”, was misleading because it did not make clear which institutions it referred to.

The complainants also objected to the ad’s claim that customers would save money by switching to Virgin Energy. The copy failed to state the nature of the price guarantee.

The ASA upheld both complaints and asked the company to withdraw the ad and to consult the Committee of Advertising Practice code before advertising again.

Direct Line Insurance plc will also have to seek CAP approval for future ads after the ASA upheld a complaint from the Automobile Association (AA) about a national press ad by MSBK London for its car breakdown service.

The AA challenged the ad’s claim that Direct Line had an average response time of 33 minutes and fixed more than 80 per cent of vehicles at the roadside.

Sega Europe also came under fire in this month’s ASA report, following a complaint about a poster ad for its Dreamcast console which shows photographs of German, French and Spanish male stereotypes under the headline ‘Spank Johnny Foreigner Online’.

The company said the poster, created by BBH, was meant to encourage “friendly rivalry” between gamers across Europe, but the ASA agreed with the complainant that the ad could be seen to condone violence against foreigners and was likely to cause offence.

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