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Vodafone Ad Starring Martin Freeman In Breakup Gets Banned For Being Misleading
By Mikelle Leow, 10 Oct 2018
Video screenshot via Kiri Bagginshield
British telecommunications company Vodafone’s commercial featuring Martin Freeman in a breakup has been banned for being “misleading” by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
According to the BBC, the self-regulatory organization said the video implied that customers could terminate their contracts as and when they wanted to. In reality, they can only quit within the initial 30-day window.
The ban comes after complaints from 11 customers who disputed the ad.
In the clip, the English actor—who’s most known for his roles in Sherlock and The Hobbit—is portrayed to be leaving a relationship.
“I haven’t got the strength to keep arguing with you,” he proclaims heatedly. “I’m leaving.”
The twist is that the breakup does not lie with his female co-star, but with a competing telco.
“Breaking up’s never easy,” says the narrator. “But unlike other networks, Vodafone has a 30-day service guarantee, so if you don’t love us, you can leave us.”
Television ad clearance company Clearcast defended Vodafone, saying that the brand had emphasized its 30-day service guarantee, as opposed to the 15-day period touted by rivals.
Despite mentioning this timeframe, Vodafone has been challenged for being too ambiguous by the ASA, which stressed that the commercial suggests customers could leave their contracts whenever they wanted.
It added that while Vodafone included a link to the terms and conditions page in the video’s caption, it had little effect on customers’ judgments.
The ASA has banned the commercial from being aired in its current form, and ruled that future ads should not present the implied meaning that users can exit their contracts so easily.
Vodafone has since promised to make its “love us or leave us” 30-day rule clearer in its marketing material.
“We already make clear that the 30 days is from the start of a customer’s contract in our terms and conditions, and will also make sure this is totally clear in our marketing,” a spokesperson said.
[via BBC, video and cover image via Kiri Bagginshield]
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