EE readies complaint over Vodafone’s 4G claims

EE is readying an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about rival Vodafone’s recent marketing activity, which “promises” customers a 4G service that its competitor says the company might not be able to offer.

Vodafone Metro
Vodafone’s press ads at the centre of EE’s complaint.

Vodafone is not yet officially guaranteed a slice of the UK’s 4G spectrum, which will be auctioned by the Government between it and rivals O2 and Three in January.

Those granted 4G spectrum are not expected to be able to launch 4G services to customers until May at the earliest. EE, which gained a headstart on its rivals by launching 4G services last month by using its existing airwaves, will also be bidding for extra capacity.

Last month, just days before EE’s 4G switch-on, Vodafone launched a £4.5m marketing assault across national newspapers and outdoor in a bid to play down its rival’s early start.

The ad campaign claimed that Vodafone’s 4G network would reach “98 per cent” of the possible indoor coverage in the UK.

Online, Vodafone is also offering a “4G Promise” to customers, which it claims will ensure customers who already own compatible phones will be able to upgrade when its 4G network is available, with the company reducing their remaining contract charges by 70 per cent.

An EE spokesman said it has approached Vodafone with a request to amend or pull its 4G-related marketing because it may mislead customers into thinking the company can guarantee the exact offer to consumers, especially as it does not yet know how much – if any – spectrum it will be able to procure from the forthcoming auction.

EE is now preparing a complaint about the marketing campaign to file to the ASA.

Under ASA regulations, companies making complaints about a rival must prove they have approached their competitor first in an attempt to resolve the situation before an official complaint can be lodged.

Vodafone did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.


How 2013 looks for marketers

Josie Allchin

The forecast for 2013 looks challenging. The IPA Bellwether report, which surveys marketing expenditure on a quarterly basis, joins the CIM Confidence Monitor in predicting a difficult time ahead for budgets. Its most recent results, released in October 2012, predict “weakened” confidence from marketers, with the likelihood that marketing spend in 2012 will have fallen for a fifth successive year.


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