A Three UK ad campaign has been banned following a complaint from rival EE.
The advertisement in question featured Three UK mascot Jackson while a strapline read “The undisputed. UK’s most reliable network. Again”.
This prompted EE to publically challenge the ad over social media at the end of last year, claiming that the term ‘undisputed’ was misleading to the public.
Speaking at the time, a EE spokesperson said: ‘Purple puppets aside, it’s well known that to claim undisputed you need to win and unify the awards across all the awarding bodies. EE has recently won reliability awards, but that doesn’t make us ‘undisputed’.’
Three explained that the phrasing was based on YouGov results, which showed that operator had been the most reliable network for seven consecutive quarters.
A complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), who rejected Three’s YouGov reasoning. The watchdog said the results were based on subjective customer’s views which the ad did not make clear. It has now ordered Three to remove the campaign in its current form.
Three has expressed surprise at the ban, stating that recent results by Rootmetrics back up its YouGov findings. A spokesperson said: We are naturally surprised and disappointed by the ASA’s decision. Technical tests conducted by Rootmetrics have also recently named us as the most reliable network.
‘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. We are analysing the ruling before deciding our next step.’
Disputes over ad campaigns has caused a number of mobile rivals to clash over the recent years. 2014 saw Three file a complaint against Lycamobile for its phrase ‘unlimited 4G data’ which resulted in the MVNO having its advert banned.
Vodafone and Telefonica also went head to head in the same year after the latter argued that the public were being misled by Vodafone.
The operator’s TV campaign claimed that '77% of the emergency services use Vodafone' alongside scenes of a firefighter’s wife leaving her husband a message whilst he was firefighting.
Mobile has approached EE and is awaiting a comment.