NAD rules that inflating claims against competitors is unfair
If your service really is 20 times better than a competitor’s, how do you fairly substantiate the claim and publish an ad? The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau (NAD) announced a decision between AT&T Fiber and Comcast that drives home the importance of properly tailoring the substantiation of your claims to your ads, based on objective evidence.
A series of ads for internet service published by AT&T painted heart-wrenching pictures of how its product met the needs of its customers. A son struggling to connect to a Zoom birthday chat, leaving a disappointed mom; a professional presentation gone awry, due to file upload speed; and more. All of these waterworks drove home the point that AT&T Fiber is 20 times faster than cable. AT&T argued that its Internet 1000 tier actually is 20 times faster than Comcast’s Gigabit Xfinity tier. This by itself was undisputed. The problem the NAD found was that AT&T ads were misleading about the extent to which AT&T’s fiber internet is superior to cable.
Fiber Is Faster Than Cable–We Get It
The NAD ruled that the AT&T ads inflated the problems with cable internet. We get it-–fiber is 20 times faster-–but cable speed is not (typically) ruining Zoom calls or causing file uploads to fail. Comcast submitted that videoconferencing would not use anywhere close to the maximum 35 mbps it offers, and that above that level, more speed does not make that much difference. While these ads certainly pulled at the heartstrings, the NAD ruled that they exaggerated the advantages of fiber over cable internet. The NAD held that “consumers will reasonably take away the message that cable Internet is so unreliable that videoconferencing and uploading large files will fail entirely.” But, the NAD said, the evidence did not support that message.
Implications for Other Advertisers Substantiating Claims of Fact
If your advertising claims highlight a problem with a competing product or service, be certain that–as the NAD put it–“the extent of the problem is not exaggerated, and the advertiser’s product or service solves the problem.” Had the AT&T ads represented the speed of cable internet as a more minor inconvenience, it is possible that Comcast would not have brought the matter to the NAD.
And of course, the more you can substantiate your claims, the better. MMR Strategy Group can help you with that. Contact us to discuss your claim and your options.