New York, NY – February 22, 2023 – In a challenge brought by AT&T Services, Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Verizon Communications, Inc. discontinue the claim “you need a better network,” as well as several implied claims, used in connection with its wireless service.
The challenged claims appear in a thirty-second holiday-themed commercial promoting Verizon’s wireless network and includes well-known actors Paul Giamatti, as the Dickens character Scrooge, and Cecily Strong. In the commercial Giamatti as Scrooge holds up his mobile phone, scowls, and complains that he can “barely get reception…” In response, Strong recommends that he “need[s] a better network. Tis the season to switch to Verizon.”
At issue for NAD was whether the claim “You need a better network” in the context of the commercial conveys an objective claim that requires substantiation or whether it falls into the realm of puffery. NAD found that although the commercial includes elements that are fanciful, it also conveys an objective comparative superiority message that Verizon’s network is better than its competitors, which requires substantiation. Because there was no support for this claim, NAD recommended that it be discontinued.
Further, NAD determined that use of the term “better” in the context of the commercial is expressly comparative because it links “better” to the specific performance attribute of cell phone reception.
In the absence of support for Verizon’s claim that it offers better reception than its competitors, NAD recommended Verizon modify the advertising to avoid conveying the implied messages that Verizon provides customers with superior reception, that Verizon has a “better network” than its competitors, and that Verizon offers superior reception due to its “better network”.
In its advertiser statement, Verizon stated that it “will appeal NAD’s decision in its entirety” based on its belief that the “challenged claim does not reference AT&T or any other carriers and was nothing more than a playful, spendthrift-themed vignette that builds up to Verizon’s ‘Free 5G Phone’ offer.”
Appeals of NAD decisions are made to BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.