Multimillion-pound Three ad banned by ASA following complaint from EE

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has spiked an ad from mobile network Three following a complaint from competitor EE.

The campaign in question was a press ad which depicted Three's muppet mascot, Jackson, wearing a pair of boxing gloves, alongside a strapline which read: 'The undisputed. UK's most reliable network. Again.'

Along with one member of the public, EE challenged the spread (which was part of the brand's wider #MakeItRight push) contesting that the use of the word 'undisputed' could be misleading for customers, and asked Three to qualify the claim.

Three argued that there was no standard and objective industry test for "reliability" when it came to mobile networks, and that it was not an "easily measurable variable". It added that ad's strapline was based on a YouGov report where it had beaten rivals in five consecutive quarters in a network reliability comparison.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint on the grounds that the claim was likely to mislead and be interpreted by customers as being based an "objective measures" for network consistency.

The regulator also criticised Three for placing the YouGov logo in the bottom left-hand corner of the ad, saying that because it was not "particularly prominent" it could be overlooked and cause readers to believe that the claim was based on subjective consumer views.

Three has been told not to show the ad again in its current form.

The brand said in a statement that it was "surprised and disappointed" by the ASA's decision: "We have been recognised by consumers, based on their direct feedback to YouGov, as the UK’s most reliable network for an incredible seven quarters in a row.

"Technical tests conducted by Rootmetrics have also recently named us as the most reliable network, so we are naturally surprised and disappointed by the ASA’s decision. We are analysing the ruling before deciding our next step.”

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