Verizon Appeals National Advertising Division Recommendation to Discontinue “You Need a Better Network” Claim for its Wireless Service

New York, NY – February 22, 2023 – In a challenge brought by AT&T Services, Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Verizon Communications, Inc. discontinue the claim “you need a better network,” as well as several implied claims, used in connection with its wireless service.

The challenged claims appear in a thirty-second holiday-themed commercial promoting Verizon’s wireless network and includes 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.”  

At issue for NAD was whether the claim “You need a better network” in the context of the commercial conveys an objective claim that requires substantiation or whether it falls into the realm of puffery. NAD found that although the commercial includes elements that are fanciful, it also conveys an objective comparative superiority message that Verizon’s network is better than its competitors, which requires substantiation. Because there was no support for this claim, NAD recommended that it be discontinued.

Further, NAD determined that use of the term “better” in the context of the commercial is expressly comparative because it links “better” to the specific performance attribute of cell phone reception. 

In the absence of support for Verizon’s claim that it offers better reception than its competitors, NAD recommended Verizon modify the advertising to avoid conveying the implied messages that Verizon provides customers with superior reception, that Verizon has a “better network” than its competitors, and that Verizon offers superior reception due to its “better network.”

In its advertiser statement, Verizon stated that it “will appeal NAD's decision in its entirety” based on its belief that the “challenged claim does 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.”

Appeals of NAD decisions are made to BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs.

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs
703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org 

 

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