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AOL beats back Freeserve ad complaints

Comparisons fair, ASA rules

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Execs at AOL UK are punching the air with delight after the advertising watchdog turned down a complaint from rival ISP Freeserve that one of its TV ads was misleading. Two adjudications from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) cleared AOL's ad featuring cyberchick Connie of using unfair comparisons to promote its service. Keith Hawkins, group head of marketing at AOL UK, said: "We are delighted with the ASA's ruling. "AOL's advertising campaign seeks to educate the consumer about the true cost of Internet access and the benefits of the AOL service," he said. The complaints centred on an ad that compared the cost of AOL's subscription and toll-free trial with peak access rates using Freeserve. "...you get ten hours of AOL access including Internet phone calls completely and utterly free," trilled the ad, compared with Freeserve "at BT peak rate (which) could cost as much as £24". The ASA received another protest but did not publish the details of that complainant. No one from Freeserve was available for comment yesterday. ®

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