4G boasting backfires on Vodacom

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ruled that Vodacom should remove its 4G claim from its marketing material. This followed a competitor complaint from Cell C.

Vodacom has recently unveiled its latest Summer Days outdoor advertising campaign, which include a 4G logo to promote its network (see Vodacom playing with fire).

Vodacom proudly describes its LTE network as 4G (which is technically incorrect), despite the fact it fiercely attacked Cell C for not accurately using the term 4G, previously.

The Vodacom billboard, which was placed directly opposite Cell C’s head office in Midrand, was bound to attract the attention of the company it dragged to the ASA for claiming to have a 4G network in 2010.

Cell C lodged a complaint with the ASA, saying that Vodacom’s use of the term 4G to describe its LTE network is inaccurate, based on Vodacom’s own criteria it used in the 2010 ASA complaint.

Cell C added that the use of the term 4G is a “flagrant and egregious breach of the ASA Code, and a complete disrespect of the standards laid down by the ASA”.

Vodacom responded, saying that the term 4G has been adopted for LTE networks, which should allow it to use the term to describe its network.

Vodacom partly relied on feedback from Professor Michael Walker, who said that Vodacom’s LTE network provides a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities over 3G technologies.

The ASA dismissed Walker’s submission, highlighting that he is a Vodafone Fellow and a technical adviser for the company. Vodafone is the majority shareholder of Vodacom.

The ASA ruled that Vodacom’s 4G claim is unsubstantiated, and that it should withdraw its advertising using the term with immediate effect.

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4G boasting backfires on Vodacom