A TV ad and a national press ad, seen in April and June 2018 for Three's ‘Oh Snap’ data offer:
a. The TV ad featured a voice-over which stated "On Snapchat, you're a social butterfly, until you run out of data. But on Three, you can use Snapchat all you like, without using up your data...Snap yourself silly, only on Three".
b. The national press ad featured the headline "Endless selfies on the amazing iPhone". Further text stated "Share your summer on Snapchat without using up your data. Only on Three".
Vodafone Ltd, who believed they offered an equivalent deal, challenged whether the claim "Only on Three" was misleading.
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd t/a Three said that they were the UK's only widely available network which allowed their customers, on selected plans, to use Snapchat without using up their data.
They said that they were the only network to have entered into a partnership with Snapchat, under which bespoke Snapchat content, filters and lenses were co-developed, such as 'Puggerfly', Three's winged pug. They said that Vodafone's Voxi service was a mobile virtual network operator which offered a service only available to consumers aged 25 and under and therefore believed that the majority of customers were not able to sign up to it, making it an unsuitable comparator to Three.
Three said that they believed the small print in ad (b) sufficiently qualified the claim, by stating "Only on Three on selected plans can anyone use Go Binge to enjoy Snapchat without using up data, with no upper age limits. Snapchat minimum age 13. Must have regular data. See Three.co.uk/Go-Binge/details for details". The information on their website stated "Only on Three. We are proud to work with Snapchat on unique branded Puggerfly content and are the only network where anyone on selected plans can enjoy Snapchat without using up their data". They said their partnership with Snapchat was well-received by the public and industry press.
Clearcast stated that at the time of clearing the ad they asked Three if they were the only network to provide the service and were assured that was the case. They stated that they had since been made aware of a similar service provided by Voxi and referred to the differences highlighted by Three between the two networks. They stated, however, that had they been made aware during the clearance process that Voxi also provided Snapchat without using data, they would not have approved the claim "Only on Three" without some form of additional qualification.
The ASA considered that the claim “Only on Three” in ads (a) and (b) would be understood by consumers to mean that Three was the only network to offer a service that allowed customers to use Snapchat without using their monthly data allowance.
We understood that at the time ad (a) appeared, Vodafone’s service, Voxi, also offered its customers under the age of 25, Snapchat without using their monthly data allowance, which was increased to the age of 30 by the time ad (b) had been published.
We acknowledged the partnership that Three had with Snapchat, which meant that unique content was available to customers of Three. We also acknowledged their reference to the small print in ad (b) and to further information on their website. However, we did not consider that the text in the small print was sufficient to override the impression that they were the only network to offer a service that allowed customers to use Snapchat without using monthly data.
Therefore, because the ads implied Three was the only network to allow customers to use Snapchat without using up their monthly data allowance when those under the age of 25 (or 30) received the same service from Voxi, we concluded that the claim “Only on Three” was likely to mislead.
Ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
Ad (b) breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.33 3.33 Marketing communications that include a comparison with an identifiable competitor must not mislead, or be likely to mislead, the consumer about either the advertised product or the competing product. (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Three to ensure that their future advertising did not contain claims that they were the only provider of a service if that was not the case.