The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Charter Communications, Inc. discontinue or modify certain comparative speed claims for its Spectrum Internet service, which appeared in its “Monsters Gaming” television commercial.
The claims at issue were challenged by internet service provider competitor AT&T Services, Inc. They included:
NAD determined that the disclosures in the “Monsters” ad do not clearly identify the basis of comparison being made in the “20X faster” claim as being limited to a comparison of Charter’s Spectrum Internet Gig (1000 Mbps) against AT&T Internet 50 (50 Mbps). Therefore, NAD found that the “20X faster” claim conveys a message about AT&T’s line of offerings.
Further, NAD concluded that the “20X faster” claim in the context of the “Monsters” ad is not supported across the line of service tiers offered by AT&T and Charter because not all Spectrum Internet service tier download speeds are 20X faster than the download speeds provided by all AT&T Internet service tiers.
Therefore, NAD recommended that Charter:
NAD noted that in the internet service provider market, consumers may reasonably expect a download superiority claim to be based on a comparison of competing service tiers with the most equivalent download speeds. However, in the “Monsters” ad, Charter’s “20X faster” claim is based on a comparison to AT&T Internet 50, which is not AT&T’s service tier offering download speeds most equivalent to Spectrum Internet Gig nor is it AT&T’s service tier offering the fastest download speeds. Rather, AT&T Internet 1000, which provides download speeds of 940 Mbps and which Charter acknowledged is available to consumers in the AT&T/Charter competitive footprint, is more equivalent to Spectrum Internet Gig.
Because the “Monsters” ad does not clearly indicate the specific service tier speeds being compared, NAD determined that the “20X faster” claim reasonably conveys the misleading message that the claim is based on a comparison of the service tiers of each party that provide the most equivalent download speeds and that AT&T does not offer any internet speeds comparable to Spectrum’s Gig Internet or faster than 50 Mbps.
NAD therefore recommended that Charter modify the “20X faster” claim and the “Monsters” ad to communicate clearly and conspicuously the exact products being compared, any material differences between the compared products, and to avoid implying that the competitor does not have a more similar product.
Finally, NAD found that consumers will reasonably take away a message that AT&T Internet is too slow for gaming, but not the broader message that AT&T Internet is too slow for general activities requiring download speeds.
In its advertiser statement, Charter stated that it “will comply with NAD’s decision with respect to the challenged claims in the commercial.” Further, the advertiser noted that it is no longer running the commercial featuring this claim and stated that although it “disagrees with NAD’s recommendations in this case, it remains a strong supporter of self-regulation and will comply with these recommendations if it makes the 20X Faster Claim again.”
About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs is where businesses turn to enhance consumer trust and consumers are heard. The non-profit organization creates a fairer playing field for businesses and a better experience for consumers through the development and delivery of effective third-party accountability and dispute resolution programs. Embracing its role as an independent organization since the restructuring of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in June 2019, BBB National Programs today oversees more than a dozen leading national industry self-regulation programs, and continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-directed marketing, and privacy. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Division: The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs provides independent self-regulation and dispute resolution services, guiding the truthfulness of advertising across the U.S. NAD reviews national advertising in all media and its decisions set consistent standards for advertising truth and accuracy, delivering meaningful protection to consumers and leveling the playing field for business.