Verizon, CSC Holdings Participate In NAD Forum

 New York, NY – March 26, 2009The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that CSC Holdings, Inc. (Cablevision), the provider of Optimum Online and iO television services, modify or discontinue certain advertising claims for Optimum Online service.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined performance and superiority claims in television and Internet advertising and direct marketing, following a challenge by Verizon Communications, Inc., a competing telecommunications provider.  Claims at issue included:

  • Optimum Online is “America’s fastest home Internet access.”
  • Optimum Online is “the fastest around.”
  • “Optimum Online is super fast. Everything else is stuck in the past.”
  • Optimum Online is “number one for speed.”
  • “Internet that’s 5X faster than phone company high Speed Internet.”
  • “America’s most advanced fiber optic network” that is “state-of-the- art” and “second to none.
  • “New FiOS users have experienced increases of up to 70% in the power consumed by their TV, phone and Internet equipment when they switched to FiOS’, compared with their previous Optimum services.”
  • i0 TV provides “the sharpest HD picture you can get,” achieves “110 percent” pixel performance” and generates “bluer” blues and “greener” greens.
  • “Get the sharpest HD picture and sound anywhere!”
  • “Best HD picture.”

NAD noted in its decision that CSC Holdings voluntarily discontinued certain claims prior to the initiation or during the course of NAD’s inquiry, including “best HD picture,” “sharpest HD picture and sound,” “#1 for Speed,”  “America’s Fastest Home Internet Access,” and the use of the “five times faster” claim in direct marketing to Verizon FiOS customers.

Following its review of the evidence, NAD recommended that the claim “fastest around” be discontinued.

NAD noted that it is undisputed that Optimum Online’s download speeds are fast. However, NAD found that the reference to “everything else is stuck in the past,” while communicated in a sing-song playful context, is comparative claim that suggests other Internet providers are not as fast, a message that was not supported by the evidence in the record. NAD recommended that “Everything else is stuck in the past” be discontinued.

NAD found that the claim “5x faster” was accurate at the time of the challenge.  However, NAD noted, “advertisers must take steps to ensure that their claims remain accurate, particularly in a market … where the technology evolves so quickly.”

NAD noted that the advertiser’s Internet download speed claims compare Optimum Online to Verizon’s DSL service and recommended that the advertiser clearly and expressly delineate the object of comparison in any advertising that includes references to both Verizon DSL and Verizon FiOS services.

NAD recommended that the claim “most advanced fiber optic network” be discontinued, but noted that the advertiser can characterize itself as an “advanced hybrid fiber optic network” and is free to tout the benefits of its network and offerings. 

Finally, NAD determined that the references to “110 percent’ pixel performance and generates “bluer” blues and “greener” greens in the context of the revised broadcast advertising did not convey objectively provable superiority claims requiring substantiation.

In its advertiser’s statement, CSC Holdings said that it “appreciates NAD’s careful consideration of the issues in this matter” and “agrees to take into account NAD’s findings in this inquiry in future advertising.”