Comcast recently challenged a number of claims that AT&T made about its Wi-Fi services in two blog posts on the AT&T website. The posts claimed that the company provided the “best possible Wi-Fi experience,” the “best possible in-home connections,” and the “best possible home internet experience.”
Comcast argued that consumers would read the posts to suggest that AT&T’s Wi-Fi was superior to competing services and that AT&T couldn’t support these claims. AT&T disagreed about how consumers would read the claims. It argued that consumers would understand them to refer to improvements over AT&T’s prior service, and the company provided evidence to support the narrower interpretations.
NAD noted that a “best” claim can either convey a self-referential message or a comparative message –even if a competitor isn’t named in the ad. Context is key. When read in the context of the blog posts, NAD determined that the claims focus on an internal change about how AT&T technicians install Wi-Fi for its own customers. Accordingly, consumers were unlikely to read them as comparisons against Comcast.
We’ve highlighted this case for two reasons. First, although most companies take steps to review the claims in “traditional ads,” not everyone realizes that blog posts also fall under the scope of advertising laws. They should be considered, too. Second, this is another reminder about the importance of context. Context can make a big difference in terms of what claims are conveyed in an ad (or blog post) and what substantiation is required.