NARB Recommends AT&T Modify or Discontinue One Advertisement, Approves Another, in its “More For Your Thing – That’s Our Thing” Campaign, Following T-Mobile Challenge

New York, NY – June 11, 2019 – A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) has found that an AT&T Services Inc. internet advertisement claiming “More for Your Stream Like a Boss Thing” conveys an unsupported superiority claim comparing AT&T to its competitors, and recommended that it be modified or discontinued.  In the same proceeding, NARB found in favor of AT&T with regard to its “Do Your Thing” commercial. 

The advertising at issue had been challenged by T-Mobile USA, Inc. before the National Advertising Division (NAD). The NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.  In its decision, NAD reviewed the “More for Your Thing – That’s Our Thing” tagline standing alone, as well as a number of uses of the tagline or its theme in the context of specific advertising, including billboard, internet, and television advertising.  NAD found the tagline itself was puffery, but in two situations NAD concluded that the tagline in the context in which it appeared conveyed misleading messages and recommended that the advertising be withdrawn or modified. Following the NAD’s decision, AT&T appealed both recommendations to the NARB, the appellate unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation.

The first advertisement on appeal was displayed on AT&T’s website for its wireless service.  It stated “More For Your Stream Like a Boss Thing” beside an image of Captain Underpants followed by text stating, “Stream your favorites anytime, anywhere, and say goodbye to overages when you talk, text, and surf.” A button below the text invited potential customers to “Explore plans.”  The NARB panel agreed with NAD’s determination that the “Boss Thing” advertisement is misleading because it conveys an unsupported superiority claim comparing AT&T to its competitors, and recommended that it be discontinued or modified to eliminate the comparative message.

The second advertisement on appeal was AT&T’s “Do Your Thing” commercial, which aired on AT&T’s YouTube channel.  The 60-second version opens with images and music from television shows. The voiceover states, “everyone has a thing, that binge watch over the weekend thing, that back from the dead” (showing an image from Game of Thrones), “or robot cowboy thing” (showing an image from Westworld). This is followed by images of AT&T customers pursuing a variety of interests, including computer games, sports, and music.  The commercial concludes with images of fancy letters spelling “YOUR THING” as the voiceover states, “AT&T gives you more for your thing. More entertainment, internet and unlimited plans. More for your thing.”  Finally, the screen shows the AT&T logo as the voiceover states, “Yeah. That’s our thing.”  The NARB panel agreed with AT&T that the “Do Your Thing” advertisement is not misleading, finding that the commercial is not comparative, and that the reference to “more” in the tagline ties it to the AT&T slogan (“More for Your Thing. That’s Our Thing”), which NAD determined was puffery.

AT&T stated that it will comply with NARB’s findings and noted its appreciation for NARB’s determination that there is no comparative claim being made in the “Do Your Thing” advertisements (60 and 30 second versions) and that use of the term “more” is puffery.  With respect to the “Stream like a Boss” advertisement, although AT&T disagrees that the claim implies any comparison, it will comply with NARB’s decision.

Note: A recommendation by NAD or NARB to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.