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Vodafone changes ad, Telecom drops court case

13 Aug 2013

Vodafone has made a number of changes to its ‘SuperNet’ advertising, sufficient enough for Telecom to no longer pursue with formal court proceedings.

Telecom launched a High Court injunction against its industry rival last week following what the company called a "misleading" advertising campaign regarding Vodafone's SuperNet branding.

Originally set for August 19, in its formal response to the proceedings filed yesterday, Vodafone confirmed that several aspects of the campaign have ceased and that qualifying statements have been added to the advertising.

An official Telecom media release reports that Vodafone claimed the absence of these qualifiers was an “oversight”, despite the fact it had refused to add them weeks earlier when this was pointed out by Telecom.

“In proceedings due to be heard next week, we were seeking an interim injunction requiring Vodafone to change certain aspects of the campaign on the basis they breached the Fair Trading Act 1986, as in our view they were misleading and likely to deceive consumers," said Chris Quin, CEO Telecom Retail.

"Given the changes now made, we have achieved this immediate objective.

“However, Vodafone’s actions in this campaign raise serious concerns under the Fair Trading Act.

"We have lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission and will continue to pursue that complaint with urgency.

"Technology is becoming increasingly complex and ever more important in the lives of New Zealand consumers.

"It’s therefore crucial that major market players act responsibly in ensuring their advertising is clear, informative and doesn’t mislead or deceive.”

Recent changes made by Vodafone include:

· In its online/YouTube advertisement explaining the overall SuperNet concept, Vodafone has removed the word "fastest", and has also included appropriately prominent disclaimers which note that "4G is live in parts of New Zealand.

A qualifying plan and capable device are required" and "Vodafone Ultra Fast Broadband is available on our cable network in parts of Wellington, Christchurch and Kapiti and coming to more places around NZ".

· Telecom is aware that Vodafone has taken steps to ensure that all executions as a part of its SuperNet campaign that rely on its cable network have been removed from areas outside its current cable network coverage.

· The television advertisements with which Telecom had most concern have ceased, and in relation to, for example, the "Unleash your Mobile" advertisement for the 4G service, suitably prominent qualifiers of "4G is live in parts of New Zealand" and "a qualifying plan and capable device are required" have been added.

· Vodafone has confirmed that it no longer intends to use a ‘long form’ advertisement that was distributed in a range of New Zealand newspapers, and in respect of which Telecom had raised issues.

· Vodafone has confirmed that billboards concerning HD video and gaming on 4G are no longer being used.