“We received a complaint from MTN where they alleged that Vodacom’s claim that they are the fastest smartphone network in South Africa is not true, and they requested that Vodacom provide us with proof that indeed they are the fastest smartphone network,” Fred Makgato, head of legal at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), told CNBC Africa.
“However, previously, we had ruled in favour of [DATA VOD:Vodacom Group Ltd.] where Telkom lodged the same complaint as [that of] MTN. On that basis, as the directorate, we accepted Vodacom’s evidence and we ruled in favour of Vodacom.”
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Makgato indicated that [DATA MTN:MTN Group Ltd.] had attempted to differentiate its complaint from that of Telkom’s but that subsequent to the process conducted by the ASA, the results remained the same.
“In terms of the code, we require advertisers to have evidence. What usually happens is the evidence you have, you have to submit to an expert in the industry, [who then] provides a report. From that report, an advertiser is able to make claims but more often than not, you’ll find that advertisers tend to go beyond what the evidence says,” he explained.
“In this case, we had evidence from Ookla, which is an entity that deals with the speed [of] uploads and downloads, which was forwarded to Catalyst Research and Catalyst is a SAMRA [South African Market Research Association]-accredited entity – they confirmed the content of the Ookla research.”
He added that while the ASA does receive between 10 and 20 complaints a month, it is able to distinguish between those that have a basis and those that do not.
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“There are instances where an advertiser will express its opinion about its products [and] there are times when you have factual claims. We are able to differentiate between the factual claims and opinions,” Makgato said.