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ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 3.2, 3.5, 4.1, 4.4, 4.31, 4.32
The advertisement opens with the following on-screen text:
“Power to Picnics”
In the first scene we see a young man and woman heading out for a picnic, they approach a gate into a field and the man says:
“I think it’s this way. Beautiful isn’t it?”
The couple climb over the gate and the woman asks the man:
The man replies ‘Yeah’ and they head into the field. The couple sit down to have their picnic, suddenly a bull appears in front of them and stares at them. The man jumps up quickly, points to the bull, turns to the woman and says:
“I got this”
To the bull he says ‘leave’
When the man jumps up the following text appears on screen:
“90% population county coverage calculated by Republic of Ireland census data dated 30/03/2016. Access to 4G subject to handset, plan and coverage. For verification see Vodafone.ie/network”.
The bull refuses to move. The man then pulls out his mobile phone and types in the question – “How to calm a bull?” he turns to his female companion and informs her that there is “no signal”.
His companion pulls out her phone and plays a video of a dog barking. The bull looks at it and walks away. The following text appears on screen:
“Only Vodafone 4G covers 90% of people in every county”.
A male voiceover delivers the following message:
“Vodafone 4G to the rescue. You have the power to be a bull whisperer and we have the 4G coverage to help. Vodafone. Power to you”.
The complainants Three Ireland (Hutchison) Limited (Three) considered that the purpose of the advertisement had been to promote the Vodafone claim that only Vodafone has 90% population coverage in every county in Ireland. Three considered that as the advertisement had been set in a rural location the impression the advertisers were trying to create was that their geographic coverage was superior to any other network operator. They said this was a different and more expansive claim to the coverage claim which was not supported by the small print which had indicated that the information was based on population as opposed to geographic coverage. They said Three had extensive rural coverage throughout Ireland through their rollout of the National Broadband Scheme including some rural areas where Vodafone did not have coverage.
In conclusion Three considered that the advertisers was 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 that the main purpose of their advertisement, as mentioned by Three, had been to inform consumers that only Vodafone had 90% population 4G coverage in every county in Ireland. They said they had never sought to create the impression that Three did not have coverage at any specific location. They said while the male featured in the advertisement had “no signal” on his mobile they never identified which network he was using nor had they mentioned his geographical location.
The advertisers rejected the assertion made by Three that they had failed to substantiate the claim made in their advertising and that as a result consumers could be misled by its contents. They said that as well as stating that their coverage was based on ‘population’ coverage they had also directed consumers to www.vodafone.ie/network where they could find a full explanation of the basis of their coverage claim and the necessary documentary evidence to substantiate this claim.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee considered that the information provided in the body of the advertisement had been clear in informing consumers that the 4G coverage data was based on “population” coverage. The Committee noted that there was also a link provided to the relevant area of the advertisers’ website should they wish to obtain more information on their population coverage data. The Committee noted that all relevant information had been available in the main body of the advertisement.
In conclusion the Committee considered that the advertisement had been clear in content and did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was necessary in this case.