The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa has ruled that Vodacom’s claim it was South Africa’s best network for three years in a row is misleading, and must be retracted.
This comes after MTN lodged a complaint with the ASA against Vodacom’s advertisement in which it claimed to have South Africa’s best network – citing SA Consumer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) data.
MTN argued that Vodacom had previously relied on network speed test data to back its claims, but when data from Ookla and MyBroadband no longer substantiated its advertisements, it switched to SAcsi’s measures.
This created a situation where real-world network quality tests from MyBroadband showed MTN had the best network, while Vodacom claimed to have the best network based on a consumer survey.
In its complaint to the ASA, MTN said Vodacom’s sudden switch to SAcsi data after years of relaying on speed test platforms for its advertisements was misleading to consumers.
The ASA Directorate disagreed, however, and said that Vodacom could continue to run its advertising campaign.
Upon appeal, the ASA Tribunal overturned the original decision of the Directorate.
The Tribunal said the fact that Vodacom had to concede it could no longer lay claim to being South Africa’s fastest mobile network undermined the statement that it was the country’s best network.
It also took issue with Vodacom’s claim that SAcsi rated it as the best network for three years in a row.
According to the Tribunal, there is an important distinction to be made – SAcsi analysed three years of data and rated Vodacom as the best network in 2017. It did not rank Vodacom as the best network in 2015, 2016, and 2017, as the claim implies, said the Tribunal.
Vodacom’s advert was therefore found to be misleading, and it has been instructed to withdraw all material that bears the claim “Best Network for 3 years in a row” with immediate effect.