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“Misleading” mobile ad banned by UK watchdog

“Misleading” mobile ad banned by UK watchdog

Thursday 02 May 2019

“Misleading” mobile ad banned by UK watchdog


The UK’s advertising regulator has waded into a row between two of the Channel Islands’ main telecoms providers over a “misleading” ad which has now been banned.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has stepped in to the dispute by upholding a complaint brought by Jersey Telecom (JT) regarding a Sure advert, which they ruled made claims which were “likely to mislead.”

At the heart of the dispute is an assertion from Sure used in advertising, which claimed that they were the “fastest network” in both Jersey and the Channel Islands – something JT said was based on out-of-date statistics.

JT subsequently dubbed the claims in the ads as “misleading.”

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Pictured: The ad made claims that Sure had the "fastest network" both in Jersey and the Channel Islands.

JT’s complaint was made over a Sure ad that went out as a ‘sponsored post’ on Facebook in November last year and pages on their website in March of this year which made the claims that they said were “verified by CICRA [Channel Islands Competition and Regulatory Authority].”

JT also claimed that another more recent test of their own network appeared to show it to be faster than other Channel Island providers. 

In their defence, Sure provided a copy of the report from CICRA who carried out an audit of local telecoms’ network providers which did find their network to be the ‘fastest’ – it was published on 1 November 2017. However, it transpired that the report was based on tests carried out in July of that year. 

They said that the test JT relied upon to claim that they had the fastest network was not comparable to the CICRA audit as they didn’t use the same sample size, geographical coverage or devices.

Sure also produced their press release, which gave more details of the CICRA audit and that they would amend the date in the ad to show when the tests were conducted rather than when the report was published.

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Pictured: One of the ads in question appeared as a sponsored post on Facebook.

Having considered both sides' cases, the ASA upheld JT’s complaint - although they weren’t convinced that either company had data reliable enough to claim they had the “fastest network.”

The ruling read: “While the report did show that Sure’s average download speeds were faster than their two largest competitors (including JT), we noted those speeds were captured in July 2017. The report was not designed specifically to capture fastest network speeds, nor was it a guarantee of future fastest speeds." 

Similarly, the ASA agreed that the testing referred to by JT was equally unconvincing. 

“We noted the testing which JT had relied upon to challenge the claim. We did not accept that this testing was superior to the testing conducted by CICRA, given the lower coverage areas and the fact that it was user-initiated through a specific mobile app. However, we acknowledged that the results contrasted starkly with those captured in CICRA’s report. We considered that called into question the age of the CICRA report and its use by Sure as a basis upon which to make fastest speed claims given that it was not specifically designed to capture fastest network speeds.”

Concluding its ruling, the ASA wrote: “However, for the reasons outlined, we considered that the [CICRA] report was no longer a sufficient basis upon which to make the claim. Because of that, we concluded that the claims that Sure were the fastest mobile network operator in the Channel Islands were likely to mislead.”

As a result of this, Sure have been told by the ASA that “the ad must not appear again in its current form” and that they cannot make claims of this nature “unless they held up-to-date documentary evidence to demonstrate that was the case.”

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