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easyEverything has been slapped by the advertising watchdog for "denigrating" AOL UK.

In a stern adjudication published today the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that an ad featuring easyEverything Internet café boss, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, ripping up his AOL account and urging others to follow suit "unfairly denigrated and exploited the goodwill of the complainant's [AOL UK] brand and product".

The ASA has warned easyEverything not to repeat the campaign.

AOL UK complained to the advertising watchdog following an ad for the Internet café that ran during the summer. easyEverything even plastered the ad on a high-side van and parked it outside the ISP's offices in London.

The ad read: "Stelios says: Tear up your AOL account!" and pictured Stelios tearing a piece of paper with AOL's logo and "AOL Subscription" on it.

The ad went on: "Now there is a new and more cost-effective way to get yourself online by visiting our Internet cafes. Avoid the cost of owning a PC and you don't have to pay £40 a month to BT for broadband Internet access either! Unlimited high speed access for just £15 a month."

AOL UK objected to the ad, arguing that the comparison was unfair because easyEverything's offer was limited to an Internet café whereas it offers a home/office-based service. AOL UK also complained that the headline and depiction of their logo being torn up was "denigratory and exploited the goodwill attached to their service".

However, the ruling has angered easyEverything. A spokesman for the Internet café chain told The Register: "This is complete nonsense. The ASA has completely lost touch with reality and do not understand the subject at all." ®

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