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Three mobile advert banned due to unverifiable comparison
Wednesday 09 March 2011 11:40:55 by John Hunt

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) have banned a regional press ad for mobile phones that was run by Three in promotion of their products. The ad was headlined "Better for smartphones" and included the text "Don't just take our word for it. We're rated No.1 network for mobile internet speed and value by smartphone users". These claims were based on a smartphone, mobile Internet and experience report compiled by YouGov. Two issues were raised as to whether the claims could be substantiated and if the ad was misleading as it didn't explain how the comparison could be verified.

Three responded that the claims were based on an independent endorsement from YouGov who could verify that Three came top in the relevant categories. The YouGov report was not a publically available document but YouGov did require it to be referenced if making claims based upon it. YouGov would not disclose how networks performed against each other however.

The ASA decided to uphold the second complaint about not being able to check if the comparison could be verified.

We considered the claims in the ad, "Better for smartphones" and " ... No.1 network for mobile internet speed and value ... ", were likely to be understood by consumers to compare Threes products and services with those of their competitors. We noted the ad included Threes web address and reference to the YouGov report. We also noted, however, the report was not publicly available and details of the comparison were not available on the Three website. We noted YouGov could confirm the categories in which Three had been ranked top but that that was not made clear in the ad and further details of how the comparison was arrived at were not available. 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.

ASA assessment

The ad must not appear again and Three must include details in the future about how comparisons with competitors can be properly verified.

Comments

Posted by otester over 6 years ago
They are only number 1 for usage/price and coverage.

Average speed goes to Vodafone.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
Seems a fair claim by three and was backed up by YouGov. Don't see why this was banned.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
"the report was not publicly available and details of the comparison were not available on the Three website"

ie you could not verify for yourself that it was true.
Posted by bosie over 6 years ago
In the Liverpool Street area, Three is barely working at just 80kbps. This using the E585 MiFi device.
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