ASA slaps Virgin for offensive ad

Watchdog bares teeth, snarls at IT adverts

An advertising leaflet written in blood by Virgin Interactive Entertainment gave the ASA something to get its teeth into this month. Virgin sent out an unsolicited mailing for a computer game in an envelope with four bullet holes on the front and holes surrounded by blood on the back. It contained a letter, a CD, and a smaller blood stained envelope that said: "Post dis F**Ker now". It also contained a Polaroid-style photo showing a man shot dead with the words "You're next" written in blood. The copy said: "Violent, Ruthless, Cunning? You’d better be... It ain't no place to f**k around... it ain't no f**king picnic... So come on ***hole...", etc. You get the idea. The ASA dubbed the mailing "irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence". Another company that got into trouble over language this month was Vodafone. The telecomms company claimed it had "the widest global mobile network". By this, it said it meant the widest coverage. However, BT Cellnet questioned the statement, and the ASA ruled that customers would interpret the claim as meaning the number of countries they could use their mobiles in, not overall coverage. IT companies also came under scrutiny. Hewlett Packard claimed to have brought out the first colour printer to flash up on a PC screen when the cartridge needed changing. Saatchi & Saatchi challenged the claim, saying Epson already had the function on its Stylus Color 600 inkjet printer. The ASA said that although HP's 2000C printer was unique and told users when ink was getting low, it was not the only printer to flash up an icon on screen and therefore the statement was misleading. Computer Warehouse got into trouble for quoting prices without including VAT. Although its advert was aimed at business customers in a specialist magazine, the ASA said that private consumers could also read the advert. ®

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