Virgin Media pulls Doctor Who TV ad after BBC row

Virgin Media has pulled an ad starring David Tennant and Sir Richard Branson after BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, complained that it used Doctor Who to promote Virgin Media's DVR service, TiVo.

BBC Worldwide was concerned that the ad, which featured the show's former star David Tennant, a 'Doctor Who' programme logo and Virgin founder Branson using a time machine, implied that the long-running BBC sci-fi series was endorsing TiVo.

Virgin Media launched its 'Keep Up' brand campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, on the Easter Bank Holiday weekend without seeking BBC approval for the ad.

Virgin Media responded  to BBC Worldwide’s complaints by removing the 'Doctor Who' logo. However, BBC Worldwide argued that the creative still broke BBC guidelines by appearing to endorse a third party. Virgin Media has subsequently pulled the ad from broadcast and YouTube.

It will continue to broadcast two other executions from the campaign, also starring Tennant and Branson, which promote its Collections range of bundles comprising TV, broad-band and telephone services.

It has also launched a direct-response campaign, created by Rapp, for Collections this week. It invites the audience to ‘Keep up’ with Virgin Media’s next generation of services.

In a joint statement, the brands 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."

Follow Matthew Chapman at @mattchapmanUK

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