Watchdog tells Three to pull advert

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Operator must discontinue advert claiming it is the best network for smartphones and mobile broadband following single public complaint

Three has been instructed by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to pull an advert from a regional campaign in which it said it claimed it was the best network for smartphones and mobile broadband.

The ASA’s request follows a single complaint from a member of the public.

The complainant said the advert was misleading because the claims made by Three could not be backed up.

Three’s advert contained the captions “Better for smartphones” and “Don’t just take our word for it . We’re rated No.1 network for mobile internet speed and value by smartphone users,” amongst others which Three said were based on independent research carried out by YouGov.

The consumer’s complaint was made in two parts – the first argued that the claims were deceptive and could not be sustained while the second part said the advert was misleading because Three did not set out how the comparison could be made.

Part one was dismissed by the ASA but the watchdog upheld the second,due to the fact the YouGov findings were not publicly available to consumers because such reports are sold directly to the operators.

The ASA said in its adjudication of the issue: “We considered that that information should have been made available for the purpose of verifying the comparison and the ad should also therefore have included reference to the means by which that information could be reviewed.

“On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.35 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).”

Three told Mobile News it firmly believed the findings were accurate and was looking into ways that it could make this information available to the public in order to keep the campaign alive.

A Three spokesperson said: “We are going to stick with the campaign and we are working with YouGov to resolve the issue of public verification and down the line we will find a way of demonstrating that we have come top in the se categories.

“What will change is the means of referencing the facts more accurately so we will abide by that.”