A Vodafone ad has been banned by the advertising watchdog following complaints from rival Telefónica that it was misleading.
In the TV marketing campaign, Vodafone claimed that '77% of the emergency services use Vodafone' with the ad showing scenes of a firefighter’s wife leaving a message on his voicemail as he dealt with a fire. The ad then featured the voiceover and on-screen text of 'Power to our emergency services. Power to you'.
A press ad also included the message: 'We are honoured 77% of the emergency services use Vodafone.'
Telefónica, the owner of O2, stated that the campaign misleadingly implied that 77% of emergency services staff used Vodafone in their personal - not professional - lives with the basis of the claim being unclear.
Vodafone, working alongside the public sector research firm, Kable, calculated from its billing system that it invoiced 77% of the UK’s emergency services for using its services.
Vodafone argued that it had highlighted the personal and emotional pressure that fire fighters go through in their work with the aim of demonstrating the strength of emergency services workers.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that viewers would interpret the voicemail from the fireman’s wife as likely to be sent using a personal phone instead of a work phone.
Vodafone's claim that '77% of the emergency services use Vodafone' could lead to ambiguity, said the ASA. Vodafone did not make clear the basis of the comparison, making the ad misleading.
'We told Vodafone to ensure they did not misleadingly state or imply that 77% of emergency services employees used Vodafone in a personal capacity and made the basis of their claims clearer in future,' it said.
The ad must not appear again in its current form.