May 21, 2020
T-Mobile USA challenged the advertising before the National Advertising Division (NAD). AT&T appealed NAD’s recommendation that it stop making those claims.
So long, “5G Evolution.”
NARB is the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and NAD is the investigative unit. Both are divisions of Better Business Bureau (BBB) National Programs.
The NARB panel determined that both claims will mislead reasonable consumers into believing that AT&T is offering a 5G network.
At NAD and on appeal, it was not disputed that the AT&T network is not a 5G network. The NARB panel agreed with NAD’s analysis. It concluded the term “evolution” is not likely to alert consumers to the fact that the service is not 5G.
The panel said consumers interpret “evolution” in the challenged claims as signifying that AT&T’s technology has already evolved into 5G.
The NARB panel agreed the addition of “the First Step in 5G” does not cure the concern that consumers could reasonably believe AT&T delivers initial 5G technology. It said a reasonable consumer could conclude the reference was the advertiser’s way of promoting a 5G network while promising an even better 5G network later. That’s especially true since the slogan is used in conjunction with “5G Evolution,” it said.
AT&T said it “respectfully disagrees” with the reasoning and result that the panel majority reached. It restated its position that its customers nationwide continue to benefit from “dramatically superior speeds and performance” that its network provides.
AT&T said as a supporter of the self-regulatory process, it will comply with NARB’s decision. We couldn’t reach the telecommunications giant for additional comment.
NARB’s membership includes 87 professionals from three different categories. Those are national advertisers (49 members), advertising agencies (26 members), and public members (12) made up of academics and former members of the public sector.
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