EE gets Three's ads banned for claiming 'undisputed' reliability


EE has just taken a swing at Three and landed a knockout punch, by getting a boxing-themed advert from the numerical network banned.

In the advert, Three's puppet mascot Jackson is seen held high in a boxing victory pose, accompanied by the text "The undisputed. UK's most reliable network. Again."

As it turns out though it wasn't undisputed, because disputing it is exactly what EE (and a member of the public) did, with a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

EE tweet

Three argued that the claim was based on a consumer study carried out by YouGov, in which the network had been rated top for reliability in the last five consecutive quarters, pointing out also that there's no standard, objective industry test for network reliability, with the term meaning different things to different people, and that the YouGov logo and a link to further details was included in the advert.

Reliable, but not indisputable

But the ASA wasn't swayed, it concluded that the YouGov logo (which sat in relatively small text at the bottom corner of the advert) could easily be overlooked and that the word "undisputed" implied there was a commonly agreed objective measure for network reliability.

Three has now been told that the advert must not appear again in its current form and that the network must not state that it's undisputedly the most reliable unless it can demonstrate that objectively.

It must also not make any claims to being the most reliable unless it's made clear that this is based purely on a survey of consumer opinions.

EE tweet

You might think that would be enough for EE, but the network also decided to rub it in, with a tweet using Three's own hashtag, telling the network it would have to #makeitright. Only time will tell whether Three will come out swinging for round two.

A Three spokesperson told techradar: "We have been recognised by consumers, based on their direct feedback to YouGov, as the UK's most reliable network for an incredible seven quarters in a row.

"Technical tests conducted by Rootmetrics have also recently named us as the most reliable network, so we are naturally surprised and disappointed by the ASA's decision. We are analysing the ruling before deciding our next step."

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.