Verizon's Scrooge Ad Okayed As Puffery

Siding with Verizon a self-regulatory appellate panel said recent ad featuring Paul Giamatti as Scrooge didn't convey that the company's network was better than those of its competitors.

The decision, issued by the National Advertising Review Board of the BBB National Programs, reverses an earlier opinion by the group's National Advertising Division.

The 30-second spot, which first aired last November, opens with Giamatti saying “Bah Humbug,” while waving his phone in the area.

When he sees a character played by "Saturday Night Live" actress Cecily Strong, he says he “can barely get reception outside ye old town center.”

She responds: “You need a better network. 'Tis the season to switch to Verizon.”

AT&T challenged the ad, arguing that it conveyed the message that Verizon's network is better than those of its competitors.

Verizon countered that the ad was “puffery,” adding that Scrooge is “a famously negative character” who “is making predictably negative comments about an unnamed network,” according to the self-regulatory group's written opinion.

The National Advertising Division sided against Verizon.

“Despite the fanciful depiction of Giamatti as the well-known miserly, miserable Scrooge, he is complaining about a specific problem with his phone -- the difficulty in getting cell reception,” that group wrote.

Verizon then appealed to the National Advertising Review Board, which found 3-1 that the comment referring to Verizon's “better network” wouldn't be interpreted by consumers as a fact-based claim.

“In the context presented here, a majority of the panel ... concludes that the phrase 'you need a better network' does not convey a superiority message,” the panel wrote.

Among other reasons for the decision, the panelists noted that Scrooge is a fictional character who pre-dates cell phones, and that the ad doesn't refer to any specific competitor or cite any data regarding network performance.

1 comment about "Verizon's Scrooge Ad Okayed As Puffery".
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  1. T Bo from Wordpress, April 25, 2023 at 2:27 p.m.

    The reasoning of the decision is silly--of course, the ad is saying VZ has a better network--but that's still no basis for quashing it.  Everyone has enough contact with users of various other networks to judge for themselves.  And there ARE pockets of poor service for one carrier or another.

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