The outdoor poster referred to the following:
“Superfast 4G now across over 90% of Ireland
Power to you”
The footnote provided the following information:
“90% population coverage in Ireland is calculated by our software tool, used with a census based geo database. Access to 4G and 4G speeds are subject to handset capability, price plan and 4G coverage. To check coverage in your area, see Vodafone.ie/coverage.”
The complainants Three Ireland (Hutchison) Limited (Three) considered that the advertising was likely to mislead consumers. They said Vodafone’s use of the term “across Ireland” created the impression that Vodafone had 90% geographic coverage of its 4G services across Ireland. They acknowledged that while the small print had qualified the fact that the claim was based on “population coverage”, it was their opinion that the inclusion of this information in small print contained within a footnote contradicted the impression created by the headline of the advertisement.
In conclusion Three considered that the advertisers were exploiting the knowledge of consumers in relation to population versus geographic coverage, they considered this could give rise to a consumer making a purchasing decision based on lack of knowledge in relation to the coverage they would receive.
The advertisers said they disagreed with Three’s assertion that their advertising was misleading. They said Vodafone had 90% coverage across Ireland which they had clearly and openly stated was based on population taken from the Census. They said that since the commencement of their campaign in 2015, their network had improved again and now they had over 90% 4G population in every county in Ireland.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisers had provided substantiation for the claims made in their advertising. Nevertheless, they considered that as the coverage claim in their advertising was based on ‘population’ coverage only, this was an important clarification that should have been referenced in the main copy of the advertisement. Without this clarification in the main copy the Committee considered that consumers could perceive that the claim of over 90% coverage ‘across Ireland’ related to geographic coverage.
In conclusion the Committee considered that the advertisement had breached Sections 2.22 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same form again.