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Verizon cheers ruling on 5G advertisements

by Verizon
NEW YORK The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs determined that the claim "America's most awarded network" in Verizon Communications, Inc.'s "I'm a Verizon Engineer" commercial did not reasonably convey any unsupported messages about awards given to Verizon's 5G network.

However, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the claim "5G from America's most reliable network" in the "Everyone Deserves the Best" commercial and several other challenged commercials or modify the claim to clarify that "most reliable" is not a specific reference to 5G. NAD also recommended modifications to the challenged portion of Verizon's website.

The claims, which appeared in television and online advertising for Verizon's wireless service, were challenged by AT&T Services, Inc.

The 2020 RootMetrics testing relied upon by Verizon as support for its "most reliable" claims noted that testing was completed across all available networking technologies, including 4G LTE or earlier technology and that the metrics provided reflect all network types (i.e., 5G along with prior generation networks) rather than a specific 5G network's performance, unlike more recent RootMetrics testing.

Regarding Verizon's "Everyone Deserves the Best" commercial and several other commercials in which Verizon advertises "5G from America's most reliable network," NAD found that consumers could reasonably take away the message that Verizon's 5G network is the most reliable and that earlier RootMetrics' testing had found that Verizon's 5G network is the most reliable of the current 5G networks.

Therefore, NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue the "5G from America's most reliable network" claim in the challenged commercials. However, in the alternative, NAD recommended that Verizon modify and qualify the claims to clearly and conspicuously disclose that RootMetrics' "most reliable" finding was based on combined testing in 2020 of all network types and not a specific finding as to Verizon's 5G network.

NAD was satisfied that with such a clear and conspicuous disclosure, consumers would not take away any unsupported messages about Verizon's 5G network and the scope of the "most reliable" claim, including any implied messages that Verizon has the most reliable 5G network or that RootMetrics has determined that Verizon has the most reliable 5G network.

While Verizon's "I'm a Verizon Engineer" commercial is focused almost entirely on Verizon's 5G service, NAD was not persuaded that consumers could take away any unsupported message that the claim of "America's most awarded network" is a claim about awards given exclusively for 5G service. NAD noted that, unlike the claims about reliability, a reference to awards won is inherently backward-looking.

NAD also considered the message reasonably conveyed by animated text on Verizon's website stating that "America's Most Reliable Network brings you 5G right, plans to mix and match, entertainment you'll love, and more." A numbered footnote after "Network" calls attention to a disclosure stating, in part, that the claim is based on testing "across all available network types."

Because many consumers may not understand that "network types" is a reference to network generations, NAD recommended that Verizon modify the text of the disclosure to further clarify that the RootMetrics testing referenced did not make a specific finding as to Verizon's 5G service. NAD also recommended that Verizon move the disclosure in closer proximity to the main claim.

In its advertiser's statement, Verizon stated that it "is pleased with NAD's decision and will comply" and that, while the NAD decision was based on data available at the time which did not speak to Verizon 5G's reliability, such data is now available.

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

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