National Advertising Review Board Finds “You Need a Better Network” Claim for Verizon’s Wireless Service to Be Puffery in Specific Television Commercial
New York, NY – April 24, 2023 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate body of BBB National Programs, determined that Verizon Communications, Inc.’s use of the phrase “you need a better network” in the context of the “Tis the Season” television commercial was puffery.
The advertising at issue had been challenged by AT&T Services, Inc. Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7171), Verizon appealed NAD’s recommendation that it discontinue the claim “you need a better network” on the grounds of puffery, arguing that the challenged claim did not reference AT&T or any other carriers and was nothing more than a playful, spendthrift-themed vignette that builds up to Verizon's ‘Free 5G Phone’ offer.
The challenged claim appeared in a 30-second holiday-themed commercial promoting Verizon’s wireless network and featured well-known actors Paul Giamatti, as the Dickens character Scrooge, and Cecily Strong. In the commercial, Giamatti as Scrooge holds up his mobile phone, scowls, and complains that he can “barely get reception...” In response, Strong recommends that he “need[s] a better network. Tis the season to switch to Verizon.”
A majority of the NARB panel concluded that in the context of the “Tis the Season” commercial, the phrase “you need a better network” did not convey a superiority message, thus upholding Verizon’s puffery position.
The NARB panel noted that in a different context, the use of “better network” would not necessarily be puffery and could convey a superiority message requiring substantiation.
Verizon stated that it “is pleased with the Panel’s decision.”
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