Virgin Media have controversially announced that they are withdrawing an advert created for their Virgin TiVo service, after the BBC objected to a number of references made to hit sci-fi series Doctor Who.
The 50-second spot, which starred former Doctor Who star David Tennant alongside Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, is said by the broadcaster to have made a number of references to the show and its ‘brand’, breaching BBC rules that their programming cannot be used in the promotion of third-party products.
The advert saw Tennant browse his acting archive under the new TiVo ‘Collections’ on-demand feature (where the Doctor Who name was listed), while Branson was in the background building a time machine (a key feature of Doctor Who). The Doctor Who logo was also noted as being ‘clearly visible’ along with a description of the show before it was originally altered following the first round of complaints, while it has now been pulled completely despite the changes.
The withdrawal is described by Virgin as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ (as opposed to the more likely reason of ‘fear of causing trouble for themselves’), and can now no longer be seen either on TV or Virgin’s official YouTube channel. However, the company still hope to get their money’s worth from Tennant, as two further clips starring the actor (without any Doctor Who references) remain intact.
Virgin Media and BBC Worldwide (commercial arm operating on behalf of the broadcaster) issued a joint statement on the matter, which said: “Virgin Media has listened to concerns raised by BBC Worldwide about perceived commercial endorsement by a BBC brand relating to the recent Virgin Media ad. As a gesture of goodwill, Virgin Media has agreed to withdraw the ad and BBC Worldwide is satisfied that the issue has been addressed.”
The original ‘offending’ advert can be seen below. Are the BBC over-reacting to what many people would see as a passing mention of a show’s name, or is the background activity from Sir Richard Branson enough to blow the Doctor Who subtext in any legal battle?
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