In a recent Decision addressing DirecTV advertising, challenged by Charter Communications, NAD recommended that DirecTV discontinue the claim that its service provides “worry-free” reliability, even though NAD also found that the advertiser's "99% signal reliability" claim was supported.
DirecTV argued, among other things, that it since it offers over 99% signal reliability, it provides a “worry-free” level of service. However, NAD concluded that the "99% worry-free signal reliability" claim, though it conveyed a similar message to the 99% signal reliability claim, was different and required a different type of support. Specifically, NAD found that in the context presented, the claim "worry-free" modified "99% signal reliability," conveying to consumers the message that DirecTV is sufficiently reliable that they would not have to worry about losing service.
And, NAD found, because DirecTV did not introduce reliable support for consumers' lack of worry, while Charter introduced support that a significant number of DirecTV's customers identified loss of service as the aspect of satellite service that they liked the least, DirecTV did not have a reasonable basis for its "worry-free" claim. NAD stated "a worry-free claim should be supported by some evidence that the level of service meets consumer expectations, particularly when it refers to a service – as, here, television service – which consumers use daily, often for many hours each day."
DirecTV is appealing the Decision.
This Decision highlights the critical importance of context in NAD's evaluation of claims. While "worry-free" could in some instances be supported by the performance of the underlying product or service itself -- or even be considered puffery -- in other contexts, as here, NAD found that a verifiable claim was communicated about consumers' expectations for a worry-free service.
NAD concluded that the challenged “99% worry-free signal reliability” claim was a different claim that conveyed a similar but slightly different message. In the context presented, the claim “worry-free” modified “99% signal reliability,” conveying to consumers the message that DirecTV is sufficiently reliable that they would not have to worry about losing service.