The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled in favour of TalkTalk after BT complained about one of the provider's poster ads.
In September 2017, TalkTalk promoted its fibre broadband services with a poster depicting two women using a tablet, with text reading "Girl time. It matters. Endless entertainment on the same fibre cables as BT & Sky, for less".
The ad also featured a roundel at the bottom stating "Britain's best value fixed price fibre", as well as small print reading "TalkTalk Faster Fibre with speed boost up to 76 Mb at £31.50 p/m for 24 months versus BT Unlimited Infinity 1 up to 52 Mb at £34.99 p/m for 12 months - £49.99 p/m thereafter (plus £150 BT reward)".
BT subsequently complained to the ASA, claiming that TalkTalk’s lowest headline speed on the referenced fibre cables was 'up to 38Mbps', while BT's lowest headline speed was 'up to 52Mbps'.
This, it said, meant the claim that TalkTalk offers "Endless entertainment on the same fibre cables as BT & Sky, for less" could be misleading and failed to make the difference sufficiently clear.
BT also argued that its service includes a strong Wi-Fi signal strength and therefore provides a better connection for wireless devices, which meant the image of two women using wireless devices, along with the claim regarding "the same fibre capables", could misleadingly imply that the overall service is the same.
Following the complaint, TalkTalk insisted that when the ad was being displayed, it offers an 'up to 38Mbps' service and a more expensive 'up to 76Mbps' service for £31.50 a month.
The provider also pointed out that at the time, BT's cheapest fibre service was 'up to 52Mbps' for £34.99 per month, while Sky was offering an 'up to 38Mbps' service for £33.99 a month.
Furthermore, TalkTalk told the ASA that the qualification at the bottom of the ad clarified which products were being compared and that all three services made use of Openreach’s fibre cables.
The company also rejected the view that the image of the women holding the tablet suggested the entire end-to-end service, including the strength of the Wi-Fi signal, was identical, as the ad did not feature a picture of a router, or suggest how close the women were to the router.
BT's complaint was not upheld by the ASA, as it concluded that consumers would understand TalkTalk was offering a "generally comparable broadband service for a cheaper price than those offered by BT and Sky".
"Although we noted that BT’s cheapest product was faster than TalkTalk’s, we also noted that TalkTalk’s main products, which were 38Mbps and 76Mbps products, were both cheaper than their BT equivalent," the watchdog said.
"Because that was the case, we therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading."