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Bullet-hole mailing complaints hit Virgin Media

LONDON - A Virgin Media mailing has drawn 10 complaints from people who thought it was insensitive for featuring a bullet hole.

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The mailing arrived in a plain white envelope that gave no clue to the identity of the advertiser and featured a small hole, surrounded by burn marks and designed to look like a bullet hole, going from one side to the other.

The hole device continued inside the letter, with the headline "faster than a speeding", next to the hole. The mailing aimed to convey the message that Virgin Media's broadband was faster than a speeding bullet.

The complainants questioned the acceptability of the use of an envelope that appeared to have sustained a gunshot, with five saying it was inappropriate due to the recent rise in gun crime.

The recipients challenged whether the advert was likely to cause widespread offence and unnecessary fear or distress.

The ASA did not uphold their complaints, arguing that the bullet hole was likely to be recognised as a gimmick, but did itself challenge whether the envelope made clear that it contained marketing material.

Virgin argued that the instances in which the envelope was addressed to "The Occupier" suggested the content was marketing material.

However, the ASA upheld its own complaint and told Virgin Media to ensure that in future mailings envelopes should state clearly that they contained marketing material.

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