Vodafone ads banned after Three challenges “Unbeatable” claims

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Vodafone based its claims on being “Unbeatable” at connecting calls on data gathered across 26 UK towns and cities between November 2013 and April 2014

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against two Vodafone advertisements featured in the national press and Vodafone’s website for misleading customers about being “Unbeatable” at connecting calls.

The Authority, which independently regulates advertising across all media in the UK, investigated both adverts following a complaint from Hutchison 3G UK, Three’s parent company. Hutchison challenged whether Vodafone’s claims in these two ads could mislead customers and be substantiated.

The text in Vodafone’s press ad read: “Every ‘We’ve found your dog’ ‘We’ve found your wallet ‘We’ve found you a donor’ matters… Many people on the UK’s transplant waiting list never go anywhere without their mobile;’ in case they get that call that could change their life. We’re unbeatable at connecting your calls. Because to us, whether life changing or not, every call matters”.

Meanwhile, the ad on the Vodafone website ad read: “Our network Unbeatable at connecting calls…”.

Small print was included beneath both ads stating that these claims were based on call connection performances across 26 towns and cities compared to Vodafone’s three main competitors. The data was gathered between November 2013 and April 2014 in tests by an independent third party.

Although the ASA said that Vodafone took a “robust approach” in its testing, it raised concerns about the tests being limited and not including large parts of the UK. it was also concerned about the testing not including Welsh or Northern Irish locations, and that two Scottish locations in the test were 10 miles apart.

The Authority ruled: “Given the large geographical areas of the UK were omitted from the sample, we considered it was insufficiently widespread to be considered a true representation of UK consumers’ experience of call connection and dropped calls.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Vodafone Ltd not to imply they performed as well as other mobile network operators on call connection and dropped calls performance across the UK coverage unless they held suitable substantiation.”

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