In response to a challenge posed by the parent company of Cablevision Systems, the National Advertising Division said it has determined that Verizon Communications has “provided a reasonable basis” for TV ads claiming that FiOS Quantum TV subs can do things like record up to 12 shows at once, watch TV “on the go,” store up to 200 hours of HD and watch recordings in other rooms.
The NAB said Cablevision contended that TV ads from Verizon entitled “Why Not?” that feature comedian Craig Robinson made false and misleading comparisons between Verizon’s FiOS TV and the MSO’s Optimum TV platform. In the ad (watch a 30-second version here), Robinson tells his young nephew that his provider “can’t” record a certain number of shows at one time, save “every single cartoon,” and pause what he’s watching in one room and resume it in another room.
FiOS Quantum TV is Verizon’s new top-end video platform. Introduced last April, FiOS Quantum TV is anchored by the Arris-made Verizon Media Server, a whole-home DVR with six tuners and 1 terabyte of DVR storage that can be paired up with client devices on the home network. The Premium version of FiOS Quantum TV ties together the functions of two VMSs, giving customers access to 12 tuners and enough storage to record 200 hours of HD video, according to Verizon. The Premium-level set-up allows customers to watch or record up to ten shows at once. The Enhanced FiOS Quantum TV tier uses just one VMS. FiOS Quantum TV is matching up with Cablevision’s Multi-Room DVR, a network-based offering that, following an upgrade last April, is now capable of recording up to 15 shows at the same time.
The NAD held that the issue in this case was whether the net impression of the challenged commercials, taken as a whole, reasonably conveyed, as Cablevision argued, a comparative superiority message regarding the DVR service offered by FiOS Quantum TV and providers of other DVR or related services such as Cablevision.
“With respect to the 30-second commercial, NAD determined that consumers were unlikely to take away a comparative superiority message that Verizon offers features that other DVR service providers or DVR providers cannot provide,” the NAD said, but recommended that Verizon discontinue the “reasonably conveyed (but inaccurate) message that with FiOS Quantum TV DVR service a subscriber can ‘save every cartoon’.”
For its part, Verizon stated to the NAD that it “respectfully disagrees” that humorous statements made by Robinson “would communicate anything about Cablevision's services,” or that any reasonable consumer would take the cartoon-recording claim literally, but said it would consider the NAD’s recommendations in future ads.
Update: Cablevision issued this statement: “Verizon has not been truthful to consumers in its advertisements, and Cablevision is gratified that the NAD recommended that Verizon discontinue its latest false and misleading claims. Cablevision’s DVR product records 15 shows simultaneously, which is more than Verizon’s DVR product, and it was wrong for Verizon to claim otherwise in its ads. In addition, Cablevision is pleased that the NAD has recommended that Verizon discontinue certain claims that overstate their DVR product capabilities.”
Administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation.