National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has ordered Verizon to stop using the phrase “the most powerful 5G experience for America,” in its advertising campaigns. As reported by Fierce Wireless, this boils down to the use of the word ‘powerful’ and the way it has been interpreted.
Verizon has also been working to halt T-Mobile’s acquisition of more 600MHz Spectrum as the company tries to maintain an upper hand in the 5G race. Although, supposedly Verizon is ahead of schedule when it comes to its 5G rollout. However, its coverage is still very limited.
This quibble over advertising language demonstrates how competitive the expansion into 5G is amongst carriers. None of them are willing to let the other get any sort of an upper hand and will use all avenues to gain an advantage themselves.
Advertising Board Halt Verizon 5G Campaign
This story has a bit of a history and has taken a while to reach this stage. Verizon used the phrase in two TV commercials earlier this year. Both focussed on Verizon’s installation of 5G in sports stadiums. They were entitled “NFL: 5G Built Right” and “5G Built Right: Madison Square Garden”.
AT&T challenged the commercials with the National Advertising Division (NAD). As they took umbrage with the phrasing used within. Then in May, the NAD recommended that they ceased using the phrase.
The main issue the NAD had with the phrase was one to do with tense and the world ‘powerful’. By using the phrase ‘most powerful 5G’ Verizon delivered a present tense message indicating that the 5G was available now.
It also delivered a future tense message that 5G would become available in the future. Verizon argued that the future tense message only referred to the stadiums where 5G is available.
The company claimed its advertising made this clear and the NARD decided in favour of Verizon. However, they took issue with the use of the word ‘powerful’.
‘Most powerful’ claim unsubstantiated
Verizon will have to change its advertising strategy after they were told not to use the phrase ‘most powerful’. This is because the use of the word ‘powerful’ was undefined in this context. That meant consumers did know who exactly what was meant by the claim.
The NARB ruled that the phrase conveys a broad superiority message. In that case, the advertising would have to demonstrate consumer understanding of the term “powerful”.
Verizon could not provide this evidence of consumer understanding. As a result, the company will have to change its advertising language going forward.
Verizon made a statement claiming it did not agree with the decision but it would comply with its recommendations. It is worth noting that AT&T and T-Mobile have both got into trouble for their advertising claims surrounding 5G so this is not uncommon.