MTN Wins ASA Appeal Clarifying ‘Best Network’ Status

The Tribunal concluded that the change in benchmark and subsequent claim was misleading, noting that the claim based on network performance was “imprinted in the mind of, and accepted by, the consumer”.

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MTN logo
MTN logo

An ASA Tribunal appeal in favour of MTN has provided much-needed clarity to consumers regarding who can claim to be the country’s best network.

MTN has won its appeal to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Tribunal, which today ruled that Vodacom must withdraw all material that bears its claim to be “SA’s Best Network for 3 years in a row” with immediate effect.

MTN had initially lodged a complaint to the ASA against competitor Vodacom’s print advertisements on 26-28 January in which it claimed to be “SA’s Best Network for 3 years in a row”, after which it had a small disclaimer at the foot of the advert, which stated: As rated by SAcsi 2017.

“This is a really important decision as it provides clarity for consumers and for the industry. Our concern was that the ASA did not seem to have a standardised approach as to who could claim to have the ‘best network’,” says Jacqui O’ Sullivan, Executive, Corporate Affairs, MTN SA.

The advert in question was found to be misleading as it was not based on network performance, which was the case with Vodacom’s previous “Best Network” claims, but rather consumer opinion. It was decided that the advert did not sufficiently inform consumers that the claim was based on a different measurement benchmark.

The Tribunal concluded that the change in benchmark and subsequent claim was misleading, noting that the claim based on network performance was “imprinted in the mind of, and accepted by, the consumer”.

The ASA Tribunal also held that it was misleading to claim that the network had been voted “Best Network” for three years in a row on the basis of the South African Consumer Satisfaction Index, as it was only voted best by consumers only in 2017, and not in 2015 and 2016.

MTN has the fastest mobile network and the best download speeds according to the Q4 2017 and the more recent Q1 2018 MyBroadband Mobile Network Quality Report. MTN has also been rated as the “Best in Test” for Voice and Data according to P3 Mobile Benchmark South Africa tests.

“Consumers can now base their purchasing decisions on objective, verifiable and world-class standards while the industry will also need to continue benchmarking itself against the highest possible performance measures,” says O’Sullivan.

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