ASA blasts Virgin Mobile for ‘aggressive’ letter-style ads

The advertising watchdog has upheld a raft of complaints about an insert for Virgin Mobile in the form of an “aggressive” handwritten letter.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) agreed with 125 complainants, many of them from trading standards departments, that the insert was likely to cause fear and distress because of its aggressive tone and use of expletives such as “bleedin” and “naff off”.

It said the insert, created by Rainey Kelley Campbell Roalfe/ Y&R, was misleading because it was not immediately clear that the fictional letter, from a dissatisfied mobile phone user transferring his business to Virgin Mobile, was an ad. Virgin Mobile defended the ad, saying it was intended to be “a novel humorous attempt at asking people to question their current mobile phone network”, but it was asked to consult the CAP copy advice team before using similar advertising in the future.

The ASA also upheld 15 complaints about a press and poster campaign for Royal & Sun Alliance which takes the form of an appeal from the owner of a lost dog.

The ad showed a photograph of a dog above the headline “Where’s Lucky?” and gave a phone number and website for people with information to contact.

The authority upheld the complaints on the grounds that it could distress people who thought the appeal was genuine.

McDonald’s has also been asked to withdraw a poster ad for its Cadbury’s Caramel McFlurry, for wrongly implying that the caramel sauce used was the same as in Cadbury’s chocolate bars.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here