Watchdog bans Vodafone's 'misleading' Martin Freeman advert

Giffoni Film Festival 2015 - Day 3
The Advertising Standards Authority ruled a Vodafone advert with Martin Freeman was 'misleading' (Source: Vodafone)

A Vodafone advert where Martin Freeman is told he cannot break up with his phone provider has been banned as “misleading”.

It claimed that, unlike with other providers, Vodafone customers could walk away, failing to clarify this only applied in the first 30 days of a contract, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled.

In the advert, Freeman is sat in his car going through what appears to be a breakup with his girlfriend.

“I haven’t got the strength to keep arguing with you”, Freeman says, “I’m leaving”.

But it later becomes clear he is actually on the phone to his mobile provider.

After Freeman is told he cannot leave his contract a voiceover says: “Vodafone has a 30-day Service Guarantee, so if you don’t love us you can leave us.”

Eleven viewers complained saying Vodafone customers can only cancel for the first 30 days of their contract.

The company argued its 30-day cooling-off period is longer than most providers, and that it pointed viewers to the full terms and conditions on its website.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled this was not enough, and ordered Vodafone not to run the ad again without making changes.

The ruling said after the 30 days “consumers would face those same difficulties in trying to leave their contract with Vodafone, and whilst we acknowledged Vodafone's reference to the small print which referred to the terms and conditions on the website, we did not consider that this altered the impression presented by the ad.”

The ruling comes less than a month after Vodafone was rapped for misleading claims about its broadband speeds.

That advert, which featured Freeman playing video games, implied that Vodafone guarantees speeds fast enough for online gaming, and therefore broke the rules, the watchdog ruled.

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