The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa has ruled that Vodacom’s claim to be the best network in South Africa for three years running is misleading, MyBroadband reported.
The advertising body called for the claim to be retracted and comes after MTN lodged a complaint with the ASA against Vodacom’s advertisement in which it claimed to be “SA’s Best Network for 3 years in a row”, after which it had a small disclaimer at the foot of the advert, which stated: As rated by SAcsi 2017.
MTN argued that Vodacom had previously relied on network speed test data to back its claims, but when data from Ookla and MyBroadband no longer substantiated its advertisements, it switched to SAcsi’s measures.
This created a situation where real-world network quality tests from MyBroadband showed MTN had the best network, while Vodacom claimed to have the best network based on a consumer survey.
In its complaint to the ASA, MTN said Vodacom’s sudden switch to SAcsi data after years of relaying on speed test platforms for its advertisements was misleading to consumers.
The ASA Directorate disagreed, however, and said that Vodacom could continue to run its advertising campaign.
Upon appeal, the ASA Tribunal overturned the original decision of the Directorate, MyBroadband said.
“This is a really important decision as it provides clarity for consumers and for the industry. Our concern was that the ASA did not seem to have a standardised approach as to who could claim to have the ‘best network’,” said Jacqui O’ Sullivan, executive, corporate affairs, MTN SA.
The advert in question was found to be misleading as it was not based on network performance, which was the case with Vodacom’s previous “Best Network” claims, but rather consumer opinion, MTN said.
MTN said it has the fastest mobile network and the best download speeds according to the Q4 2017 and the more recent Q1 2018 MyBroadband Mobile Network Quality Report. MTN has also been rated as the “Best in Test” for Voice and Data according to P3 Mobile Benchmark South Africa tests.
“Consumers can now base their purchasing decisions on objective, verifiable and world-class standards while the industry will also need to continue benchmarking itself against the highest possible performance measures,” said O’Sullivan.