Comcast Cable Communications can support overall speed claims made for its Xfinity Triple Play services, the National Advertising Division determined, but clarification is necessary for specific comparisons of Internet speed with a competitor.
CenturyLink challenged print and broadcast advertising claims like “Up to 4x faster than CenturyLink” and “Xfinity gives you the fastest internet.” While conceding that Comcast’s $99 Triple Play service (bundled Internet, voice, and video/TV) is faster than CenturyLink’s bundled services, CenturyLink argued that its stand-alone Internet speeds are faster than Comcast’s Triple Play.
The language of Comcast’s advertisements conveys to consumers that CenturyLink’s services are never faster, the challenger contended, “which is simply not the case.”
But just because an ad contains one comparative claim does not mean that consumers will reasonably interpret every claim within the same advertisement as similarly comparative, Comcast said. The ads at issue compare CenturyLink’s bundled service to Comcast’s bundled service— which is twice as fast.
Comcast also noted that only a small percentage of CenturyLink customers are actually eligible to subscribe to its highest speed Internet service.
The NAD found some uncertainty in Comcast’s ads. While the “faster” claims were not explicitly tied to stand-alone or bundled service, the fact that such a small percentage of CenturyLink subscribers were even eligible for the company’s one faster service meant Comcast could support its claims. The mere existence of a higher speed service from CenturyLink did not render Comcast’s claims false.
However, the self-regulatory body did advise that Comcast clarify some of the claims in its ads. “Although the advertiser provided a reasonable basis for its overall speed claims, NAD recommended that the advertiser more narrowly tailor the challenged advertisements offering the $99 Triple Play package and in which Comcast generally claims to have the fastest overall speeds, to further delineate or separate its claims regarding its offering and its broader overall speed claim.”
A greater sequence between claims or the use of a clear and conspicuous disclosure with regard to the speed claims would help, the NAD said. Comcast should also ensure that all iterations of the $99 package explain that it is an introductory offer.
To read the NAD’s press release about the decision, click here.
Why it matters: The highly competitive market for Internet and television subscribers has kept the NAD busy. The self-regulatory body has also recently settled disputes between Comcast and Verizon about unsupported Internet speed claims, in which it recommended that Verizon halt certain claims and Comcast stop advertising that Xfinity Internet service “is the fastest in the nation.”