Hyperoptic has been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a circular ad because it resembled a written letter from BT.
The watchdog was contacted over a mailshot sent out by the fibre broadband provider addressed to The Resident, which contained text on the back page reading: "Your BT CONTRACT is about to cost you even more…".
The circular did contain a disclaimer at the top-left of the front page pointing out that it had been sent by Hyperoptic, while details of the provider's promotion were listed at the bottom.
However, the ASA agreed that the mailshot did give the impression that it was "commercial correspondence which related specifically to the recipient".
"We noted that the back of the circular contained text at the top stating a scheme reference number and membership number," the watchdog said.
"It also referred to 'Your BT contract' in large red print at the top and that below that the first sentence of text began with the underlined word IMPORTANT."
The ASA also stated that the text was set out to look like a contract, with information laid out in paragraphs that resembled clauses in a legal contract.
Hyperoptic had argued that the mailshot was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication, and not correspondence from BT, particularly as it was only addressed to ‘The Resident’, rather than a specifically named individual.
The company also noted that the offer terms and conditions were printed on the front page of the circular, directly below the recipient's address, and that these referenced Hyperoptic three times.
Furthermore, it said that on the same page as the recipient's address, text at the top left stated "Sent by Hyperoptic Ltd" followed by their return address.
Nevertheless, the ASA concluded that only recipients who "took time to engage with the back of the circular would identify its true nature, which became even clearer to those who opened it".
"Because we considered the marketing communication was not obviously identifiable as such, we concluded that the ad breached the [Marketing] Code," the regulator said.
Hyperoptic has therefore been ordered not to use the ad again in its current form and ensure the promotional nature of any further marketing communications was more obvious in the future.