CC image courtesy of warrenski on Flickr
South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against mobile operator Cell C in a complaint lodged by rival operator MTN regarding advertisements aired by Cell C claiming MTN is trying to keep mobile communications prices high.
ASA said Cell C’s advertising campaign “misleads the consumer”, and ordered the advertisements to be removed immediately.
HumanIPO reported Cell C released the adverts as a reaction to MTN taking the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to court following the revision of mobile termination rates (MTRs) by the regulator.
“Everyone wants to pay less for their cellular calls, right? Well, perhaps not. You see, one of South Africa’s biggest and most profitable cellular companies is taking the regulator to court over a regulation that says that they have to lower their interconnect rates,” the radio advert said, telling consumers to switch to the operator which has their best interests at heart.
“The commercial implies that MTN is greedy and corrupt with no regard for the interests of its customers,” MTN said in its ASA complaint.
“This is underscored by the description of MTN being “one of South Africa’s biggest and most profitable companies”, with the insinuation that MTN’s actions in challenging the ICASA regulations are motivated solely by greed.”
Cell C responded by saying whilst the advertisement does not make MTN look good, neither do the objective facts.
The company said it was careful to stick to the facts, avoiding emotive words, absolute statements and an emotive tone.
However, ASA ruled against Cell C, ordering the adverts to be removed immediately.
“The respondent’s radio commercial is framed so as to exploit the lack of knowledge of the consumer, and misleads the consumer by omitting material facts about the regulations and by misrepresenting the complainant’s actions,” ASA said.
“We are pleased with the ruling by the ASA as it vindicates our position that the Cell C adverts were misleading and in bad taste,” said MTN chief marketing officer (CMO), Brian Gouldie.
“We believe that consumers deserve quality service and products. We remain unwavering in our commitment to provide them with a world class quality network that they have come to expect from MTN.”