BBB National Programs Archive

 

NAD Examines Implied Claims for FIOS Quantum Following Cablevision Challenge

New York, NY – Jan. 13, 2015 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Verizon Communications, Inc., has provided a reasonable basis for advertising claims that FiOS Quantum TV subscribers can record up to 12 shows at once, watch TV “on the go,” store up to 200 hours of HD programming, and watch recorded programming in other rooms.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

NAD considered whether broadcast advertising by Verizon implied comparative superiority to other providers of television services following a challenge by CSC Holdings, LLC, the parent company of Cablevision. The challenger contended that broadcast advertising made false and misleading comparisons between Verizon’s FiOS Quantum TV and Cablevision’s Optimum TV, and failed to make clear that benefits promoted by Verizon, if true at all, were true only for highest tier of FiOS Quantum TV.

The challenged commercials, both entitled “Why Not,” depicted comedian Craig Robinson talking with his young nephew about the service provided by Mr. Robinson’s television provider. Mr. Robinson cautions the child that the provider “can’t” record a certain number of shows at one time, save “every single cartoon,” pause the television in one room and play it in another or provide for television viewing on hand-held devices. As he details the each service limitation, the child asks “Why?”

Following these exchanges, the words “Why Not?” appeared on the screen and a voiceover stated: “It’s time for Quantum FiOS TV.  Store up to 200 hours in HD.  Record up to 12 shows at once” and then stated: “Plus, watch Quantum live TV on the go with the FiOS Mobile App.  Redefining what TV can be.”

The issue for NAD in this matter was whether the net impression of the challenged commercials, taken as a whole, reasonably conveyed – as the challenger argued – a comparative superiority message regarding the DVR service offered by FiOS Quantum TV and providers of other DVR or related services such as Cablevision.

In the absence of consumer perception evidence, NAD used its expertise to determine the express and implied messages reasonably conveyed by the challenged commercial.   In analyzing the messages conveyed by a particular advertisement, NAD typically reviews the totality or overall net impression created by an advertisement as a whole.   With respect to the 30-second commercial, NAD determined that consumers were unlikely to take away a comparative superiority message that Verizon offers features that other DVR service providers or DVR providers cannot provide.

NAD concluded that the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its claims that FiOS Quantum TV subscribers can record up to 12 shows at once, watch TV “on the go,” store up to 200 hours of HD programming, and watch recorded programming in other rooms.

NAD recommended that, in the 60-second version of the challenged commercial when the nephew asks “Why” he can’t record “that many shows at once”, the advertiser discontinue Mr. Robinson’s response that, “I guess they [i.e. competitive DVR/DVR service providers] didn’t feel like it.”   In context of the commercial, NAD determined that the use of the word “they” could reasonably be interpreted as meaning that competing providers of DVR services do not offer a comparable or superior recording option; the evidence in the record demonstrated that Cablevision offers consumers the ability to record up to 15 shows at one time, compared to Verizon’s Quantum TV’s ability to record 12 shows at once.

NAD further recommended that the advertiser discontinue the reasonably conveyed (but inaccurate) message that with FiOS Quantum TV DVR service a subscriber can “save every cartoon.”

Verizon, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “respectfully disagrees that any of comedian Craig Robinson’s humorous statements would communicate anything about Cablevision’s services, or that any reasonable consumer would take his literal ‘You can’t save every single cartoon’ statement to communicate unlimited recording capacity. Verizon will nevertheless consider NAD’s recommendations in future advertising.”