Complaint: 09/160

Vodafone Text Advertisement


P. Towl
Upheld / Settled
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Chairman's Ruling

7 April 2009

Complaint 09/160

Complainant: P. Towl
Advertisement: Vodafone New Zealand Ltd

Complaint: The advertisement, which was in the form of a text message sent to a mobile phone, said:

"Call frm the backyard 2some1 nearer the beer fridge. On th right plan u cn use yr mobile whn u like-& keep ur prepay numba! 2C which plan we recommend 4u call 537".

Complainant, P. Towl, was of the view that advertisement which "associated communication, social inclusion and alcohol" implied improved social inclusion and alcohol coming as a result of purchasing a particular type of cellphone plan and was not socially responsible, especially if received by people under 18 years of age.

The relevant provision was the Code of Ethics, Basic Principle 4.
The Advertiser, Vodafone New Zealand Ltd, said:

"The Complaint concerns the following TXT message (the Message):

Call frm the backyard 2some 1 nearer the beer fridge. On th right plan u can use yr mobile whn u like-& keep ur prepay numba! 2C which plan we recommend 4u call 537

You suggest that the relevant section of the Advertising Standards Code of Practice may be Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics, which requires all advertisements to be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and society.

The reference in the Message to the beer fridge was a light hearted attempt to place the campaign in the familiar context of summer, the kiwi barbeque, and community.

The Message was sent to customers who had opted in to receiving promotions from Vodafone, and like all our TXT campaigning, was not sent to customers we knew to be under the age of 16. Unfortunately, given the limited information we have about some prepay customers, the age restriction cannot always be enforced.

Vodafone is very concerned to exercise a due sense of responsibility to consumers and society. The reference to "beer fridge" was repeated only once in this campaign after the Message received by the complainant. While we do not accept that we have failed in our duty to our customers, we have deleted the reference from the campaign material, and will ensure that it does not recur in messages sent in the planned relaunch of the campaign."

The Chairman noted the advice from the Advertiser that the advertisement had been amended in a self-regulatory manner once the matter had been brought to the attention of the Advertiser. Accordingly, she said the matter had been settled and it would serve no further purpose to place it before the Complaints Board.

The Chairman ruled the complaint was Settled.

Chairman's Ruling: Complaint Settled