Verizon misleading 5G commercials called out by NAD after AT&T complaint

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has condemned Verizon for misleading consumers over the quality of its 5G network across the country.  NAD recommended Verizon stop using the claim that it’s delivering “the most powerful 5G experience for America” in two previously aired TV commercials touting the carrier’s 5G service rollout in sports stadiums were challenged by 5G competitor AT&T.

Editor’s Note:   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.

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The National Advertising Division has determined that, in the context of two challenged television commercials touting Verizon’s rollout of 5G service in sports venues, the claim that ‘Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America’ reasonably communicates a message about the consumer experience of using 5G mobile service that was not supported by the evidence in the record,” according to statement from NAD.

The message is apparently that Verizon was not fairly representing its network in advertisements and promotions broadcast at sporting venues.

Verizon plans to appeal the ruling to the National Advertising Review Board.

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Verizon is in hot water over its misleading 5G commercials following AT&T complaint

Verizon is building 5G networks in sporting venues across the U.S., though the NAD believes the way the advertisements have been created suggests a similar experience would be offered outside the sports venues themselves.

The express claim stated in the ads is that “Verizon is building the most powerful 5G experience for America,” a message the carrier indicated is clear to consumers, despite NAD’s finding that Verizon’s use of past and present tense conveys the message that it currently delivers the most powerful 5G experience.

“The intent of the commercial is to inform consumers about the billions of dollars Verizon is investing in its 5G buildout. Verizon strongly believes that consumers understand that this is the only message that is reasonably conveyed,” said Verizon in its advertiser’s statement.

NAD pointed to wording like “This is happening now,” for the NFL spots and said Verizon’s “unqualified superiority claim…goes beyond touting Verizon’s spectrum portfolio.” Instead, sending the message of 5G consumer experiences that include capacity to serve many people at once and using Verizon’s 5G network to post content, along with resilience, coverage and latency –  which NAD said Verizon didn’t provide sufficient evidence to support its present tense “most powerful network” claim.

Based on the context, one commercial the NAD release appears to be referring to is a Verizon NFL 5G Built Right ad, which Jeffrey Moore, principal at Wave7 Research, confirmed ran heavily in September 2019 in line with the start of NFL season and stopped airing November 18.

“5G branding efforts from Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile shifted to pandemic-related branding, showing that Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are doing what they can to keep customers connected and safe,” Moore told Fierce Wireless.

Verizon announced last September it was expanding 5G service to 13 NFL stadiums. Given current restrictions on large public gatherings in many places though, it’s unclear when ads depicting massive crowds might come back into favor.

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U.S. based wireless telcos are facing a difficult challenge in delivering the desired “5G experience.” Despite the telcos preaching about the benefits of mmWave spectrum to underpin 5G networks, the telcos are performing woefully according to many critics/pundits.

T-Mobile has been blasted for the speeds which have been delivered over the 600 MHz spectrum it has been offering, while AT&T and Verizon has been failing at coverage. In a recent Rootmetrics gaming study in Los Angeles, none met the minimum requirements for latency.

Moore noted that Metro By T-Mobile’s “Rule Your Day” campaign, was halted for a period, but restarted May 6. On the postpaid side, T-Mobile’s message for a time was “We’re with you,” but has now returned to the tagline of “Are you with us?”

This “slap on the wrist” by NAD implies that the U.S. is failing to even come close to meeting its own inflated promises in the delivery of 5G service.

For an excellent analysis and comparison of exaggerated 5G claims by Verizon vs AT&T, please see this blog post by Adrian Diaconescu.

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References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/nad-recommends-verizon-discontinue-the-claim-that-it-is-delivering-the-most-powerful-5g-experience-for-america-in-two-tv-commercials-advertiser-to-appeal-301059468.html

https://telecoms.com/504372/verizon-gets-wrist-slap-for-misleading-5g-claims/

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/verizon-should-discontinue-most-powerful-5g-experience-ad-claim-nad-finds

https://www.phonearena.com/news/verizon-misleading-5g-advertisingatt-complaint_id124706

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