Branson struck by ad watchdog’s lightning Bolt

The Olympic Games has barely begun but already Usain Bolt has been disqualified.

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a Virgin broadband advert featuring the fastest man on Earth impersonating the Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson was misleading. The company has told the authorities it would not be showing the advert again.

Perhaps surprisingly, the ruling had nothing to do with Locog’s desire to protect the brand security of the Olympics’ official sponsors.

Instead, the ASA upheld a claim from Virgin’s rival BT that having the Jamaican sprinter say, “I want everyone to say bye-bye to buffering,” might lead some viewers to believe that buying the broadband on offer would allow them to do just that. Not so, as Virgin has acknowledged.

The next installment of Virgin Media’s ad campaign will feature kung fu (not an Olympic sport) performed by the somewhat less athletic presenter and writer Stephen Fry. There was no word on whether Bolt would retain his Branson-style goatee beard for the Olympic 100m final a week on Saturday.