News | Wednesday, 07 January 2009

MCA intervenes on advertising campaign based on private surveys

Charlot Zahra

The Malta Communications Authority (MCA) has intervened with telecoms operator GO plc following a media campaign which was not based on information available in the public domain.
It was rival telecoms operator Vodafone Malta Limited that had asked for the MCA’s intervention regarding GO’s media campaign some weeks ago.
GO in its adverts claimed that it was Malta’s best rated provider in terms of innovation, customer experience and reliability. These claims by GO were based on a survey commissioned by GO.
“Consequently, it resulted that the survey was not in the public domain,” the MCA explained in a statement.
The Authority subsequently communicated with GO to “express its concern” on this type of advertising.
“All undertakings in the communications sector should ensure that any surveys which serve as the basis for any claims made in the media should be in the public domain,” the MCA insisted in a statement issued yesterday afternoon.
The MCA said it “firmly believes” that if undertakings made claims on the basis of information which was not in the public domain, “then this may lead to a situation where undertakings make claims about their services and products or those of their competitors which cannot be verified for their accuracy and correctness.”
“If a claim in an advertisement is based on a survey commissioned by an undertaking concerned, then this fact should be clearly stated in the said advertisement,” the MCA concluded.
Questioned further on whether the MCA had taken any other sanctions, including financial, against GO in connection with this advert, the MCA told Business Today: “No. The MCA has imposed no sanctions in this regard.
“Furthermore, the MCA has no direct remit towards such types of advertising however it does have the right to express its views and inform the competent Authorities when it is of the view that a matter related to its sector merits investigation,” the MCA spokesperson added.
On its part, a GO spokesperson said that the telecoms company had made “various references in the media about the aforementioned research conducted by GfK”.
“As a result of this research, GO has launched an advertising campaign focussing on its strengths as resulting from GFK’s scientific research,” GO said in a statement issued later in the evening.
Defending its survey, GO said that the research was commissioned last summer to GfK, “one of the top international market research companies”.
The survey was carried out using GfK’s patented Loyalty Plus methodology among a 1,000-strong population sample. It included also qualitative research via extensive mystery calling and shopping as well as in-depth interviews and focus groups.
“GO reiterates its view that it is completely correct for it, or any other organisation for that matter, to base promotional campaigns on scientifically valid research that it commissions,” the GO spokesperson insisted.



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07 January 2009

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