New York, NY – April 24, 2023 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate body of BBB National Programs, determined that Verizon Communications, Inc.’s use of the phrase “you need a better network” in the context of the “Tis the Season” television commercial was puffery.
The advertising at issue had been challenged by AT&T Services, Inc. Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7171), Verizon appealed NAD’s recommendation that it discontinue the claim “you need a better network” on the grounds of puffery, arguing that the challenged claim did not reference AT&T or any other carriers and was nothing more than a playful, spendthrift-themed vignette that builds up to Verizon’s ‘Free 5G Phone’ offer.
The challenged claim appeared in a 30-second holiday-themed commercial promoting Verizon’s wireless network and featured well-known actors Paul Giamatti, as the Dickens character Scrooge, and Cecily Strong. In the commercial, Giamatti as Scrooge holds up his mobile phone, scowls, and complains that he can “barely get reception…” In response, Strong recommends that he “need[s] a better network. Tis the season to switch to Verizon.”
A majority of the NARB panel concluded that in the context of the “Tis the Season” commercial, the phrase “you need a better network” did not convey a superiority message, thus upholding Verizon’s puffery position.
The NARB panel noted that in a different context, the use of “better network” would not necessarily be puffery and could convey a superiority message requiring substantiation.
Verizon stated that it “is pleased with the Panel’s decision.”
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About BBB National Programs: BBB National Programs, a non-profit organization, is the home of U.S. independent industry self-regulation, currently operating more than a dozen globally recognized programs that have been helping enhance consumer trust in business for more than 50 years. These programs provide third-party accountability and dispute resolution services that address existing and emerging industry issues, create a fairer playing field for businesses, and a better experience for consumers. BBB National Programs continues to evolve its work and grow its impact by providing business guidance and fostering best practices in arenas such as advertising, child-and-teen-directed marketing, data privacy, dispute resolution, automobile warranty, technology, and emerging areas. To learn more, visit bbbprograms.org.
About the National Advertising Review Board (NARB): The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the appellate body for BBB National Programs’ advertising self-regulatory programs. NARB’s panel members include 85 distinguished volunteer professionals from the national advertising industry, agencies, and public members, such as academics and former members of the public sector. NARB serves as a layer of independent industry peer review that helps engender trust and compliance in NAD, CARU, and DSSRC matters.
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