Vodacom data ad misleading

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IOL pic may20 vodacom sign Bloomberg File picture: Nadine Hutton

Johannesburg - A headline in a Vodacom advert was misleading, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.

The advert, on the company's website promoting its data bundle transfer, was found to be inconsistent with reality, the ASA said in its ruling released on Friday.

The reality, conveyed in the body of the advert, appeared to contradict the initial impression created by the headline.

“In essence, the complainant argued that the reference to transfer is misleading, as it does not accurately describe the service. In reality, one cannot transfer one's own unused data. One has to purchase additional data, and then forward this as a gift to someone.”

Vodacom submitted that the service, which allowed a customer to purchase a data bundle and “gift” the bundle to another Vodacom customer regardless of payment type, was free.

The terms and conditions stated the bundle transfer was a transfer of airtime from the transferring customer that was converted into a bundle for the receiving customer.

“In the context of the advertising as a whole, it is clear that this is a gifting of standard broadband once-off data bundles to family or friends, or one's own other SIMs. It is not promoted as a service offering to get rid of unused data.”

The body of the copy explained how the bundle transfers worked, Vodacom said.

The ASA said it was not acceptable to contend that a misleading impression conveyed by a headline was corrected in the body copy.

The complaint related to the impression created by Vodacom's use of the word “transfer”.

“While the directorate accepts that the very next heading refers to one giving data as a gift, the copy below this again refers to the ability to transfer data bundles to other Vodacom customers.

“At the very least, this creates an impression that one would be able to send portions of one's own, unused data, to other Vodacom customers.”

The ASA said only when the rest of the advert was scrutinised did one realise the data was not actually “transferred”, but rather bought and allocated to someone else, which correlated with Vodacom's references to “gift”.

The ASA ruled that the headline “Data Bundle Transfer” had to be withdrawn.


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