We’ve all seen the ad on TV. Verizon’s montage of a 5G future spun out with vistas of towers, tower techs and happy customers while the announcer intones “Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America.” The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is pulling the plug on the carrier’s happy tale.
The National Advertising Division of the Board determined that, in light of two challenged TV commercials touting Verizon’s rollout of 5G service in sports venues, the claim that “Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America” was “not supported by the evidence in the record.” The NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the claim that it is delivering “the most powerful 5G experience for America.”
Verizon said it will appeal this adverse finding to the NARB. NAD also recommended that the advertiser modify the challenged advertising to ensure that disclosures regarding 5G coverage both inside and outside the featured sports venues are clear and conspicuous (e.g., that Verizon’s 5G service will be available in parts of the sports venues; and that it is available only in parts of select cities). The claims were challenged by AT&T Services, Inc., provider of competing wireless services.
NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.
The following are representative of the challenged claims:
- “Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America.”
- Verizon customers will experience the “massive capacity of 5G with ultra-wideband so more streaming, screaming, posting fans can experience 5G all at once” in stadiums and arenas with 5G.
- Verizon’s market-leading 5G performance and “massive capacity” is available to Verizon customers wherever it currently offers or will offer 5G, including outside stadiums and arenas.
- Verizon’s mmWave 5G service and the claimed performance benefits (most powerful experience, ability to provide claimed benefits to thousands of people simultaneously) will be available wherever Verizon’s 5G advertisements are shown.
With regard to the evidence needed to support Verizon’s unqualified superiority claim, NAD noted that the challenged advertising goes beyond touting Verizon’s spectrum portfolio and reasonably communicates a message about the consumer experience of using 5G mobile service, both with regard to capacity (i.e., the ability to serve a large number of people at once) and usage (i.e, using Verizon’s 5G network to post content, an activity that relies upon a network’s upload and download speeds). Further, in the context of these advertisements, the word “power” conveys a message not only about speed but also potentially about, for example, resilience, coverage, and the reaction time of the network (i.e., latency).