ASA adjudication sends an important message to Virgin Media

Shona Kerr

Virgin Media Ltd has been found to have run foul of the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) once again – this time breaching database practice codes by sending marketing communications by email to a customer who had previously requested not to be sent such emails.

In defence of the complaint, Virgin argued that the Data Protection Act permitted them to contact customers infrequently to update them on recent business developments and that the email sent to the complainant was just that. They believed it was not a marketing communication because it: i) announced that Virgin Mobile had become part of the Virgin Media Group; ii) did not have the facets of marketing transmissions; and iii) gave customers the opportunity to opt-in to receive further marketing communications following the change.

ASA upheld the complaint ruling that whilst emails informing customers about business changes did not constitute marketing communications, the Virgin email was double-edged as it contained marketing paraphernalia such as price and gift incentives whilst the text used had markers of marketing campaigns although this was in conjunction with information about business development.

Given the breach of the ASA code, Virgin were prevented from circulating the email in its ‘current form’ and warned that they must ensure that customers who request not to receive marketing communications by email do not do so.

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