BBB National Programs Archive
NAD RECOMMENDS VERIZON DISCONTINUE CLAIM: ‘TWICE AS FAST AS ANY AT&T SMARTPHONE’
New York, NY – Jan. 25, 2012 -The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business
Bureaus has recommended that Verizon Wireless discontinue the advertising claims that its 4G LTE
Smartphones are “twice as fast as any AT&T smartphone.”
AT&T challenged the claim before NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, and argued
that consumers viewing the challenged advertisements would interpret the claim to mean what it
literally states: Verizon’s 4G LTE smartphones work twice as fast as any AT&T smartphone in all
AT&T asserted that this claim was literally false because the device processor speeds of the
smartphones offered by AT&T are as fast as, or faster than, the device processor speeds of Verizon’s
smartphones. In addition, the challenger argued that the context in which the “twice as fast” claim
appears does not make clear to consumers that the “twice as fast” claim is based on network speed,
rather than the speed of the actual smartphones depicted.
The advertiser argued that, when viewed in the context of the challenged advertisements and the
marketplace as a whole, consumers would understand that the phrase “twice as fast” referred to
network speed, not the processing speed of the featured Smartphones.
However, neither party submitted consumer perception evidence regarding the message conveyed
by the challenged claim and NAD stepped into the shoes of the consumer to determine the messages
Following its review of the advertising at issue, NAD determined that at least one reasonable
interpretation of the “twice as fast” claims is that Verizon’s Smartphone’s perform all tasks (including
those which depend on the processor speed of the phone) “twice as fast” as any AT&T Smartphone –
a claim that was not supported by the evidence in the record.
NAD next considered the advertiser’s argument that NAD should evaluate the “twice as fast” claim in
the context of the challenged advertisements and in the context of a consumer’s understanding of
the marketplace. In particular, the advertiser argued that wireless carriers frequently make speed
references regarding smartphones, similar to those challenged here, where such references are
clearly to network – not processor – speed. In addition, the advertiser argued that when device
processor speed is the focus of an advertisement, wireless carriers and cell phone manufacturers
emphasize this fact by expressly referring to the device processor speed. According to the
advertiser, it is therefore reasonable to expect that consumers will understand the reference to
speed in the challenged advertisements as network speed. NAD did not agree.
NAD then considered the advertiser’s argument that the basis of comparison for the “twice as fast”
claim was made clear by a disclosure: “Twice as Fast compares expected speeds of Verizon 4G LTE
smartphones operating in 4G LTE markets vs. AT&T smartphones operating in HSPA+ markets.”
NAD determined that the advertiser’s disclosure was insufficient to adequately qualify the challenged
advertisements’ prominent, overarching message that Verizon’s 4G LTE Smartphones are, overall,
twice as fast as any AT&T Smartphone. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the challenged advertisements to make the basis of
comparison for the “twice as fast” claim clear to consumers by adding it to the main claim rather
than providing the basis of comparison in a fine-print disclosure.
Verizon Wireless, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “continues to believe that its
advertising was appropriate, consistent with past industry practice, and properly understood by
consumers as referring to the relative speeds of the networks upon which its and AT&T’s
smartphones operate … .”
However, the company noted, “the specific claims challenged are no longer being utilized. Verizon
Wireless agrees to take the NAD’s decision into account in future advertising.’
NAD’s inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising. Details of the initial inquiry, NAD’s decision, and the advertiser’s response will be included in the next NAD/CARU Case Report.
About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation: The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) was formed in 1971. NARC establishes the policies and procedures for the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the CBBB’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP).
The NARC Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the American Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF), American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc., (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB), Direct Marketing Association (DMA), Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Its purpose is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation.
NAD, CARU and ERSP are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. Their casework results from competitive challenges from other advertisers, and also from self-monitoring traditional and new media. NARB, the appeals body, is a peer group from which ad-hoc panels are selected to adjudicate NAD/CARU cases that are not resolved at the NAD/CARU level. This unique, self-regulatory system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children’s advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB’s primary source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB. ERSP’s funding is derived from membership in the Electronic Retailing Association. For more information about advertising industry self-regulation, please visit www.narcpartners.org.