NAD Recommends AT&T Modify, Discontinue Certain Claims in ‘More for Your Thing’ Campaign; Advertiser to Appeal Adverse Findings

New York, NY – Oct. 10, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that AT&T Services Inc., modify or discontinue certain claims made as part of the company’s “More for Your Thing,” advertising campaign. AT&T said it will appeal those adverse findings to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The claims at issue were challenged by T-Mobile USA, Inc., and included:

  • “More for your thing.  That’s our thing.”
  • “AT&T gives you more for your thing.”
  • “AT&T gives you more for your thing.  More entertainment, internet and unlimited plans.  More for your thing.  That’s our thing.”
  • “AT&T gives you more for your thing, whatever your thing is.  More entertainment, internet and unlimited plans.  More for your thing.  That’s our thing.”
  • “More for your stream like a boss thing.  Stream your favorites anytime, anywhere, and say goodbye to overages when you talk, text, and surf.”
  • “Hey DIRECTV customers.  You do lots of this [texting visual]. Plenty of this [talking visual]. And can’t live without this

    .  That’s just your thing.  But what about your other thing?  You know, the saving money thing?  Well, switch to AT&T Wireless and get $15 off your DIRECTV bill for life.  Plus all the talk, text, and data you can handle.  With no overages ever.  Because that’s our thing.  Switch to AT&T.  The nation’s largest and most reliable network.  And get more for your thing.”

NAD also considered whether the advertising at issue implied that AT&T’s wireless plans include more high-speed data or have more data benefits than competing plans.

T-Mobile challenged several advertisements and commercials that were part of AT&T’s “More for your thing. That’s our thing” advertising campaign, including one billboard advertisement, one static internet advertisement, and several commercials.  The commercials aired both on television and on the internet.

The challenger contended that a majority of consumers would view the billboards, which featured the statement “More For Your Thing.  That’s Our Thing.” alongside the AT&T logo, as conveying a broad comparative message that AT&T delivers more data benefits for wireless customers.  AT&T contended that the message conveyed by the billboard was not measurable and that “More for your thing.  That’s our thing.” is puffery.

Following its review, NAD determined that the claim, “More For Your Thing.  That’s Our Thing” alongside the AT&T logo, standing alone, was puffery.

Several of the challenged advertisements presented the claim “More For Your Thing.  That’s Our Thing” in the context of a specific offer.  For example, AT&T’s “Right Zone” television commercial promotes its iPhone 8 offer, telling the story of a couple whose newly combined household includes two of everything, including puppies. The advertisement states “Buy One iPhone 8 Get One iPhone 8 on Us.”  The voiceover repeats the offer: “Buy one iPhone 8, get one iPhone 8 on us.” and “More for your thing.  That’s our thing.”

T-Mobile argued that the advertisement depicted the couple using their cellphones to check real estate listings, video chat and view Instagram posts. In that context, the challenger said, “more for your thing,” refers to cell service plans’ data benefits needed to do the activities shown.  AT&T replied that, in the context of the advertisement, “more for your thing,” if it not pure puffery, refers to the additional phone that consumers could obtain through the BOGO offer.

NAD was persuaded that the context of the advertisement limited the takeaway from the phrase “more for your thing” to the BOGO offer and found the message supported.

T-Mobile also challenged AT&T’s “Make The Switch” television commercial, which opens with the AT&T logo and the words “DirecTV.”  The commercial features images suggesting social media use, describing voice phone use, and streaming video over a cell phone. The commercial features an offer “switch to AT&T Wireless and get $15 off your DirecTV bill for life, with no overages ever.  Because that’s our thing.” It closes with the statement “switch to AT&T, the nation’s largest and most reliable network, and get more for your thing,” and the AT&T logo.

NAD considered, but was not persuaded by, T-Mobile’s arguments that, because the advertisement shows repeated images of cell phone use, the advertisement’s offer is a promise to provide more data or that the phrase “all the talk, text and data you can handle with no overages ever” conveys the misleading message that AT&T offers more data benefits than its wireless competitors.

NAD concluded that this advertisement limited the takeaway from the phrase, “more for your thing” to a factual description of AT&T’s DirecTV bundle and savings offer.

NAD reached a different conclusion following its review of a panel appearing on AT&T’s wireless webpage. The panel stated: “More For Your Stream Like a Boss Thing” beside an image of Captain Underpants followed by text that stated: “Stream your favorites anytime, anywhere, and say goodbye to overages when you talk, text, and surf.”  A button below invited potential customers to “Explore plans.”

AT&T explained that the intended message of the text that follows the “More For Your Stream Like a Boss Thing” claim reflected the truthful benefits of its unlimited wireless internet plans compared to plans with data limits. NAD noted that, unlike the commercials described above, the offer in this commercial was not explicit. NAD recommended that the advertiser modify the advertisement to clarify the intended message and make it clear to consumers that AT&T is highlighting specific features of AT&T’s unlimited plans as compared to those AT&T plans that have data limits.

Finally, NAD reviewed AT&T’s “Do Your Thing” commercial, which was not tied to any specific AT&T offer. The commercial features music and images from television shows and AT&T customers pursuing a variety of interests, including computer games, sports, and music.

The commercial concludes with images of fancy letters spelling “YOUR THING” as the voiceover states, “AT&T gives you more for your thing.  More entertainment, internet and unlimited plans.  More for your thing.”  Finally, the screen shows the AT&T logo as the voiceover states, “Yeah.  That’s our thing.”

Following its review, and pursuant to its precedent, NAD determined that consumers would reasonably understand the “more entertainment [and] internet” claims to convey a comparative message. AT&T did not submit evidence to support claims that it has more entertainment or internet than its competitors, arguing instead that the statements were puffery, and therefore NAD found the claims to be unsubstantiated

As for the claim “more unlimited plans,” the parties each contended that they offered a greater number of unlimited plans.  NAD noted that AT&T did not, in fact, show that it offered more unlimited plans than T-Mobile.  However, NAD found the counting of unlimited plans troubling because it was not clear that the sheer number of unlimited plans conveyed any measurable consumer benefit.

In conclusion, NAD recommended that AT&T discontinue the “Do Your Thing” commercial or modify it to limit the message conveyed to its intended takeaway that AT&T has a wide variety of service offerings for consumers.

AT&T, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company disagreed with certain of NAD’s conclusions relating to the “More for your stream like a boss thing” and the ”Do Your Thing” ads, and will appeal those findings to NARB.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.