AT&T should revise or discontinue boasts in TV ads that its upcoming 5G service will be built on “America's best network,” a self-regulatory watchdog recommended.
The ads, which were part of AT&T's “Just OK is not OK” campaign, included a voiceover at the end that said the company was building 5G on “America's best network.”
The BBB National Programs' National Advertising Review Board (which decides appeals of National Advertising Division opinions) found that claim problematic, writing that the boast could convey “an unsupported message concerning superior characteristics of AT&T’s 5G network.”
The National Advertising Review Board said AT&T should either “discontinue the claim that AT&T is 'Building 5G on America’s Best Network,' or state in the body of the claim that the 'Best Network' referred to is AT&T’s 4G network.”
The appellate unit noted that the National Advertising Division decided in 2019 that AT&T could advertise its 4G network as America's “best wireless network” -- provided the company also said the boast was based on a test by Global Wireless Solutions, and disclosed a connection to the testing company. AT&T is a client of Global Wireless Solutions.
The appellate board reiterated those recommendations in its new decision.
The ruling stemmed from a challenge to AT&T ads by Verizon, which objected to several aspects of the ads, including AT&T's claim to offering the best network.
The National Advertising Division rejected some of Verizon's arguments last year, but recommended that AT&T stop saying it was “Building 5G on America's Best Network.”
Both companies then appealed to the National Advertising Review Board, which upheld the National Advertising Division's decision.
AT&T said it disagrees with the watchdog's recommendations regarding revisions to its ads, but will comply.