Opinion

Adam and Jane? More like a damn pain

I felt a sense of smug satisfaction on hearing that a particularly irksome installment of BT's increasingly tedious 'Adam and Jane' broadband commercial series had been banned by the ASA.

The series of TV spots in question, cast by BT as some kind of nationally important saga, chronicles the lives of Jane, her kids, and her toyboy, played by the dopey one off My Family.

And as a side note, are there any other IT adverts that turn you off? I have to admit I mute the TV when those Dell guys in hard hats start singing about lollipops, and a particular Kinks song has forever been ruined for me by HP IPG.

The ASA specifically objected to one advert in which Dopey was being shown round a new house by an estate agent who couldn't get his boring old 8Mbit/s connection to work, while Jane, stuck in her improbably tidy kitchen, surfed the web with brazen impunity on a whizzy new 20Mbit/s line.

The watchdog received 17 total complaints over various misleading claims in the ad, including from broadband rivals BSkyB, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

The full adjudication bears reading in-depth and can be found at the ASA's website, I won't go into the nitty gritty here.

However I will take to the soapbox for a minute to express my complete and utter lack of surprise at this judgment.

Back in July, I wrote about Ofcom research into the discrepancy between advertised broadband speeds and reality that showed pretty much every ISP tested come up wanting.

It was high time someone got rapped on the knuckles, and given its size and status in the market it was probably inevitable that it was BT that took the fall.

But the thing is, you only have to look at Ofcom's figures to see that they're all at it. Sky's 20Mbit/s delivers nothing of the sort, and TalkTalk's is even worse! Yet amazingly, they keep making these claims.

While I welcome the judgment against the BT ad campaign - and not just for artistic reasons - I think we can all agree that the ASA's response is a drop in the ocean.

A concerted campaign needs to be waged on a wider front; we deserve both better broadband and truthful claims to back it up, otherwise the UK will fall further behind its European neighbours.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, our ongoing wait for Virgin Media has been temporarily relieved courtesy of our downstairs neighbour who has loaned us his wi-fi password. What a thoroughly bloody nice bloke.

This was first published in August 2010

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