NAD Recommends Comcast Commercial Be Discontinued Following Challenge by AT&T Services, Inc.

New York, NY – Dec. 10, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has determined that Comcast Cable Communications Inc.’s “Funktastic Video” commercial promoting multiple aspects of its internet and mobile services and the savings Comcast services provides to consumers switching from competing services including the challenger’s AT&T’s services.

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 challenger contended that Comcast’s advertisements reasonably convey the message that Comcast Xfinity offers the “fastest internet” along with Xfinity’s mobile service at savings of $400, $500, or $600 or more compared to AT&T, and that these benefits can be obtained for a monthly price as low as $19.99. Comcast countered that each individual claim contained in its commercial, under the conditions stated, is literally true. Further, Comcast stated that in crafting its advertisements, it followed NAD precedent and guidance as to superiority claims and introductory offers in the same commercial.

The challenged commercials are set at a mobile/tech showroom. A little girl approaches a browsing couple and states, “Hey! Want the fastest internet?” She clicks on a remote device and exclaims, “Done!” as the words “FASTEST INTERNET” appear on a large television screen behind her. She clicks the remote again and continues, “now, Xfinity Mobile is included.” The words “Xfinity Mobile” appear on the large screen. The girl clicks the remote again and states “you can get up to five lines” and adds that, “switching from AT&T saves over 500 bucks your first year…” At the bottom of the screen a disclosure reads: “Compares Xfinity’s Performance Starter Internet and one mobile line with unlimited data to AT&T’s Internet 50 plus one line of Unlimited Wireless as of 3/15/18.”  The girl tells the couple that they could spend their savings, “on a funktastic music video,” as she clicks the remote one last time, starting a music video on the large screen, starring the girl. The screen switches to black as the voiceover states, “Get started with Xfinity internet for $19.99 a month for 12 months and you can get up to 5 mobile lines included. Click, call or visit us today!”  Simultaneously, the end card prominently features the $19.99 a month price on screen for “Internet + Up to 5 lines of unlimited talk & text” along with smaller text detailing restrictions, requirements and other charges. Additional text rolls in, “2 services for the price of 1” followed by, “download speeds up to 25Mbps.”

NAD acknowledged and appreciated the seriousness with which the advertiser took its obligations and its efforts in creating the challenged advertising in accordance with NAD precedent. NAD noted, however, that each case is  fact specific.

Following its review of Comcast’s commercials, NAD concluded that they reasonably convey messages that are unsupported. In particular, NAD noted that each claim immediately follows the other with virtually no separation thereby essentially conveying a continuous, ever-building promotion culminating in the $19.99 offer. Given this context, NAD concluded that consumers could reasonably take away the unsupported message that they can obtain Comcast’s fastest internet tier and savings of $500 versus AT&T in the first year, all for $19.99 per month for twelve months. NAD further found that the onscreen disclaimer, “*Compares Xfinity’s Performance Starter Internet and one mobile line with unlimited data to AT&T’s Internet 50 plus one line of Unlimited Wireless …”  was insufficient to qualify its savings claims.  Lastly, NAD concluded that given the overall context of the spot touting the “fastest internet,” Comcast’s use of the “get started” qualifying language was insufficient to alert consumers to the fact that the $19.99 price was for its introductory baseline 25 Mbps offering. As such, NAD recommended that this commercial (and a print advertisement) be permanently discontinued.

Notwithstanding, NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from promoting multiple aspects of its product or service in the same 30-second commercial.  To that end, NAD recommended that in future advertisements, Comcast provide  clear delineation between its internet performance, savings, low price promotion claims, clearly and conspicuously disclose the basis for its savings comparison, make clear that the $19.99 price is for its advertised promotional package and affirmatively, clearly and conspicuously disclose in close proximity to the introductory price offer, that the previously advertised features are not included in the price offer, or otherwise delineate that earlier features promoted are separate and apart from, and not included in, the final “starter” offer.

In its advertiser’s statement Comcast stated although it had discontinued the subject advertising, it will take NAD’s observations into consideration and comply with its recommendations when developing future advertisements. Comcast appreciated NAD’s recognition that Comcast is entitled to advertise multiple features of its products and services in a commercial.

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.