A TV ad for Sky Mobile featuring film heavyweight Tom Hardy has been banned from airing in the UK following a number of complaints that the advert was “misleading”.
The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) received several complaints from concerned customers over the advert’s promise of a “free” phone upgrade after one year in contract.
The advert itself appears to be rather unremarkable, with actor Tom Hardy explaining the Sky Swap handset switching policy in voiceover as he wanders along an empty beach.
Hardy is best known for his breakout role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, playing Bane in Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, starring as the title character in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as leading a host of Hollywood blockbusters.
The policy, as Tom Hardy explains, works as follows:
Inclusive contracts normally last 24 months, during which time the customer pays for both their phone and the minutes, texts and data on their plan.
Sky Mobile, however, lets customers upgrade their handset halfway into the contract – although the ASA ruled that this process isn’t as “free of charge” as Tom Hardy implies.
Sky customers upgrading their handset will indeed be free of “early upgrade, admin and delivery charges”, but they could end up paying a higher monthly bill with their new phone.
Where things get deceptive is the hidden fact that customers enter into a new 24-month contract as soon as they upgrade, doubling the duration of their contract with Sky.
Because this key information is not visible anywhere on the advert, the ASA have ruled that the ad cannot be aired in the UK and have demanded that, for future adverts, Sky “ensure that any material information relating to an offer was stated sufficiently clearly.”
This is the third time this year that Sky has had complaints about their advertising and a ban upheld by the regulator.
Sky’s tie-up with Lego Batman – featuring the voice of Will Arnett – was pulled by the ASA in June 2017.
An advert claiming Sky had ‘Super Reliable’ broadband speeds fronted by the cartoon stars of Secret Life of Pets was also ruled to be misleading and nixed from the airwaves in July 2017.
It appears that the ASA’s previous ruling have done little to deter Sky from its deceptive advertising, and it’s not difficult to understand why.
Although the ASA have recently banned the Tom Hardy advert, the ad itself has been off the air since May, with no plans to broadcast it ever again.
Sky have also removed the offending ad from its Youtube channel. Two other Hardy-fronted ads, Sky Mix and Sky Roll, are still live.