AT&T brought an advertising challenge against Verizon at the National Advertising Division, challenging a claim by Verizon that, “Verizon is the number one network choice in public safety."  AT&T argued that the claim conveys a broad message that Verizon Frontline is superior to similar offerings of competitors. The NAD held that Verizon's claim, which appeared in a commercial for its Verizon Frontline service, was supported.  Here's why. 

Verizon Frontline is Verizon’s wireless network solution for first responders and public safety personnel, providing services and features meant to enhance connectivity and response-readiness in emergency situations. The commercial depicted images of first responders such as firefighters, police officers, dispatchers, and paramedics, and other public safety workers, performing their jobs in emergency situations while using laptops or other equipment requiring network service. AT&T, as well as other carriers, also offer their own dedicated public safety network services.

While AT&T contended that the claim’s alleged broad superiority message was not supported, Verizon explained that the message conveyed by the claim is clearly regarding choice.  The Verizon Frontline network, Verizon argued, is chosen by more public service agencies than any other network, and there is no message about performance superiority being conveyed.

So, does Verizon’s claim communicate only a message about market share leadership, or does it go further to convey a broader superiority message? AT&T argued that it communicated a claim about superiority, taking into account the context of the commercial as a whole. NAD found, however, that the context of the commercial in which the claim appears did not “blur” the basis of the “number one choice” claim with performance superiority, as there were no references to Verizon’s competitors or other comparative claims. While previous NAD decisions have found a “blurring” of advertisers’ #1 claims with messages of performance superiority through express performance comparisons and comparative language, NAD did not find that to be the case here.

Further, NAD explained that the basis of the claim that Verizon Frontline is the #1 network choice in public safety, is right there, expressly stated in the claim; and “choice,” NAD said, is not a term of product performance or efficacy.

NAD/CARU Case Reports, Report #7208