Complaint: 12/671

Vodafone Television


P. Downing
No Grounds to Proceed
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P. Downing
Vodafone New Zealand Ltd
Vodafone Television
19 December 2012
No Grounds to Proceed

Complaint: The television advertisement for Vodafone showed an actor, James Rolleston, thinking about what he will get his girlfriend for Christmas. He said "It has to be something cheap" as he placed his feet on the table, revealing what appear to be expensive new shoes. The implication is that he has spent his money on himself, so needs to buy something inexpensive for his girlfriend for CHristmas. The voiceover explained that consumers who contracted into a 24 month plan for $45 per month, they would receive a Galaxy Mini smartphone for free.

Complainant, P. Downing, said: "Vodafone are currently promoting a free smartphone on a $45 plan. This is a 24 month plan. My issue with this is it is being targeted specifically at young people, "Don't know what to get your girlfriend for Christmas?" This is totally irresponsible advertising at a time of year when many are impressionable by the advertising they see around them. Many young people may well sign up to this in order to provide their partner of the day with an exciting new smartphone without taking into account the long term commitment they are making. As silly as it may sound you only have to watch Judge Judy to see how many cellphone contracts turn into credit nightmares when young people part ways after entering into these contracts. The issue I have is not with the promotion itself as much as the target audience and the message being sent. I believe Vodafone should rethink their advertisement and not deliberately and specifically target the young that do not have the necessary ability to I appreciate the long term commitment they are making or the fact that there are call charges on top of the $45. Is it really worth destroying the credit rating of young people for profit? In our young society today a 2 year relationship is a long and committed relationship, a 2 year cellphone contract with cancellation penalties is an even longer relationship if the first one breaksdown."

The relevant provision was Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics.

The Chairman noted the concerns of the Complainant that the advertisement was irresponsible.

After viewing a copy of the advertisement, the Chairman considered that the terms of the contract associated with the phone purchase were clearly explained on the advertisement. She was of the view that purchasers of the phone and contract would likely be aware of the terms as they were stated in the advertisement itself, and also would be explained in the stores where the purchasers would visit if they were interested in the promotion.

As such, the Chairman said advertisement did not reach the threshold to constitute a breach of the social responsibility required by Basic Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics, and did not appear to breach the Advertising Codes.

Accordingly, the Chairman ruled that there were no grounds for the complaint to proceed.

Chairman's Ruling: Complaint No Grounds to Proceed