ASA shuts down Cell C campaign

2010-10-07 14:34

Cape Town - The Advertising Standards Authority has found that mobile operator Cell C's 4G campaign is misleading and dishonest.

The ASA was responding to complaints lodged by competitors MTN and Vodacom over Cell C's campaign that featured the 4Gs logo in both print and electronic media.

"The complainants, in essence, submitted that the respondent's '4Gs' logo is dishonest and misleading as consumers will mistake it to be a reference to the '4G standard of network. This is especially so as the 's' in '4Gs' is extremely small.

Consumers have become accustomed to seeing the term '3G' in connection with broadband capable devices in South Africa, which always denotes speed and connectivity capability," the ASA said in its ruling.

Cell C has been driving its connectivity as "speedcover 4Gs" in several cities, including Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, East London and Cape Town.

'Big positive'

"Cell C's 4GS network has come to the Mother City covering 94% of the population with average speeds of between 4 - 7 Mbps and the best broadband pricing in South Africa," Cell C CEO Lars P Reichelt said in a statement to News24.

The ASA found that the networking, in essence, was "on par" with competitors, and the company was offering a competitive advantage that it "did not possess".

In its response Cell C said that its 4Gs was not a technical term and the company was using it to highlight its service. It also disputed that it was subject to the ASA as information was "conveyed in editorial publicity".

Vodacom welcomed the ruling.

"We welcome the decision, it's a big positive for the consumer," Vodacom's Richard Boorman told News24. He said that there was an internationally accepted definition of 4G and Cell C didn't have it.

The ASA however, ruled that Cell C may not use the 4Gs logo, and the campaign must be withdrawn.

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  • Jason Penton - 2010-10-07 14:46

    "We welcome the decision, it's a big positive for the consumer," - HAHAHA, like Vodacom REALLY cares for the consumer????? what a load!

  • Peter - 2010-10-07 14:47

    Is that all they are going to change? Seems they changed to being dishonest!

  • Juan - 2010-10-07 14:47

    Thank you ASA! 4g is a bit misleading!

  • Mr.T - 2010-10-07 14:48


  • Richard - 2010-10-07 14:52

    The Advertising authority should ban the whole cell C ad campaign

  • Francois - 2010-10-07 14:53

    what the heck, vodacom and mtn is just as scared as telkom when it comes to proper competition. they keep prices at ridiculous levels while we pay R250 pm for a 500mb "3G" card, that's hardly ever "3g", more like a 0,1G!!!!

  • peter - 2010-10-07 15:04

    I thought Trevor Noah would be watching them like a hawk..........

      lmduplessis - 2011-03-10 11:10


  • Anti Vodacom - 2010-10-07 15:08

    Why dont MTN and Vodacom go back to the drawing board regarding their exhorbitant rates rather than worry over CellC, they clearly threatened by what CellC has started to offer cant wait for my VC contract to end jan 2011 woohoo CellC here I come

  • Leon - 2010-10-07 15:10

    Forget about what is said above the biggest misleading point of all is the fact that the 4Gs network does not work on any phone with a normal cell c sim or contract. in other words it will ONLY work if you buy the data sim with the dongle. I personally think cell c has not looked after their existing client's. As a existing cell c user the biggest problem for me is the fact that you cannot utilize your phone's 3g capabilities with their network. A few monts back I saw cell c's campaign about the 4g thing and I thought to myself YAY now FINALLY i can use my phone's true potential when it comes to surfing the net. But soon my smile went away hehe as my nokia 5800 still shows the edge network sign in the top left corner. Now that I tell you was sad. And that to me is the biggest misleading thing about the WHOLE 4G network launch. Take note it does not work even if you buy yourself, as I did, a new 128k sim card. They told me it would work but it does not..... I'm not complaining, in actual fact I'm blessed to have a phone, i'm just warning other buyers. MTN and vodacom here I come, you'll see me next August :-)

  • Gaz - 2010-10-07 15:11

    Too late she cried - They have enjoyed the publicity already and will reap the rewards.
    Good on you CellC for your current campaign

  • HAYNE, Mark - 2010-10-07 15:13

    Typical of Cell C- everything about them is either dishonest or 3rd rate!

  • Bob Geldoof - 2010-10-07 15:14

    ok, so when are VC going to take withdraw the broadband adverts?.....

  • snackpz - 2010-10-07 15:14


  • Rick Cooper - 2010-10-07 15:21

    Cell C CEO Lars is doing a great job - keep going at the big, overpriced, arrogant cell giants in SA, Lars. I can't wait until your new network roles out to JHB.

  • Joe - 2010-10-07 15:23

    And Trevor what does you say!

  • Steve - 2010-10-07 15:26

    Well done cell. Vodacom are greedy pigs and don't have the consumer at heart. The service you get from Vodacom is shocking. They are rip off artists

  • Amanda - 2010-10-07 15:26

    CellC is still the underdog even with fancy advertising.

    MTN is still the network to beat!

  • saver - 2010-10-07 15:26

    come on celc put the catch amongst the pigeons and drive the prices down, i ahve already move from MTN and I am making a 50% saving on cell phone cost. vodacom & mtn have been ripping us off for to long.

  • martin - 2010-10-07 15:28

    Brilliant marketing, first it was the "C" copy write and now this... Great job!

  • Justreading - 2010-10-07 15:31

    The same should be said about the Iphone 4G. There is nothing 4G about it. Misleading.

  • bob - 2010-10-07 15:31

    the only people benefiting are vodacom and mtn not the consumer because no one has disputed that Cell C has cheap data rates only the speed 4G, so unless you are worried about speed (mtn and vodacom love to tell you about the speed of their network - that's if you can ever get 3.5G)there is no real benefit to the consumer by removing the ad

  • Jennifer - 2010-10-07 15:32

    Gaz, with all that publicity i will still NEVER use Cell C.

  • NM - 2010-10-07 15:37

    What I wonder about is their new branding using the international copyright symbol as part of the logo, even though it looks like CELLO to me. Hmm, must be an orchestrated campaign.

  • Uncle Bob - 2010-10-07 15:41

    THINK ABOUT IT: Even though ASA found the Cell C "4G" networking "was on par" with other providers, they do not mention anything about "...the best broadband pricing in South Africa". So even if it is on par, it is still the best value for money, isn't it? I did not even know about this until Vodacom put up a fuss! Thanks Vodacom - I will be moving over to Cell C since my next upgrade is due soon!

  • What's the difference? - 2010-10-07 16:23

    Vodacom and Cell C sound very immature.
    Why don't they just focus on providing decent cell phone services, the customers would flock.

  • @Leon - 2010-10-07 16:39

    I had the same problem, but after speaking to tech support they added me to the 4Gs network and I am now runniing at 3.5G on my 5800.

  • Xpat - 2010-10-07 17:11

    I'm a South African working in Kenya. I'm currently paying KSh10 000 (+/- R1 000) to enjoy 20 GB data bundle on 3G connection. (Which is not the cheapest option, but very convenient for me) I also enjoy KSh 20 (+/- R2) per minute to phone South Africa (mobile or land lines) and I pay KSh 3 (+/- R0.30) per minute to call local mobiles and KSh1 (+/- R0.10) per SMS (to ANY network)
    My post paid (contract) mobile bill for 2 Blackberry Phones (with Blackberry service fees), itemised billing and value added services, roaming (after travelling to Uganda and Tanzania) and all calls, internet usage and SMS was KSh 7 400 per month (+/-R740) One phone on contract in South Africa with local land line and mobile calls only R 1 700 per month. South African mobile providers are ripping off the consumer. I would love to see a price war in SA as we’ve experienced here in East Africa. We need to start fighting for better rates or else SA will fall behind very quickly!

  • Johnathan - 2010-10-07 17:13

    While the reaction from Vodacom (caring about the consumer - LOL!) is laughable, it's quite right of ASA to shut this down. Cell C was clearly trying to "trick" uninformed consumers into thinking that 4Gs was a lot better than 3G, which it isn't.
    What they now need to do, though, is look at what all of the companies are offering as 3G and determine if it actually fits the bill, because in my experience, service quality and speed is so patchy that in many instances, the "3G" service doesn't come close to its potential.

  • backfire - 2010-10-07 17:18

    What did Trevor Noah say in one of those tv commercials about him not liking things that were not what they were claimed to be? What hypocrites Cell C really are, but then again they are just doing the old business
    moonshine thing, that says its not what a thing really is, its what it is percieved to be.Selling perception again.

  • KR - 2010-10-07 17:19

    And where was Trevor the CEO in all of this? Shouldn't he have been looking out for our interest? What was all that "I'm watching you like a Hawk" BS

  • hiedie - 2010-10-07 17:21

    CRY BABIES.....Cell-C still the cheapest and best!! .Do something for the consumer ? stop stealing our hard earned cash !!!!

  • Gazzer - 2010-10-07 17:21

    In Response to Leon, The fact is you can use your 5800 on the new network, your sim has to be provisioned , you can load Data onto the sim as a Value add and use it that way, your only setabck is your modem is only compatible upto 3.6mbps. But bottom line you can use it to it's full potential, just got to wait till Cell C switch on Gauteng, hopefully by next month you can go wild.

  • craig - 2010-10-07 17:28

    Everyone get blackberries and cut these over priced company's revenue. Maybe then they'll stop sponsoring everything and start providing cheaper rates!!!!

  • jon - 2010-10-07 17:40

    Looks like Trevor Noah is going to be "Sacked" These companies and their empty promises never even got that cup of coffee.

  • Andrea - 2010-10-07 17:53

    Never liked the old ads for cell c, new ones are equally rubbish. Useless coverage, dropping calls, only manage to keep customers by offering rubbish phones for cheap. Still don't know how they've managed to keep the copyright symbol as their new logo???

  • Nix - 2010-10-07 18:38

    Really wish they would spend their time, energy and money on improving their services and products instead of focusing and fighting over each other's advertising.

  • Dave - 2010-10-07 18:49

    Its a fact that MTN and Voda dont give a damn about their customers (this I say from experience). To them we are just a number with a bank account attached to it.

  • Desmond - 2010-10-07 19:26

    Nealy all networks are the same, always misleading consumers. MTN has 24 hour internet which is also misleading because is only 150mb than network becomes slow.

  • One of thousands of unhappy Mtn subscribers - 2010-10-07 19:29

    At least cell c are honest about their intentions even if their ads are misleading they are great to watch!
    Mtn's service is non existant[try & complain]
    & they continue to charge what they like despite others changing interconnection fees as required by law.They are also one of the only company's worldwide to do business with pariah goverments like Sudan & Iran so should be the last one to complain about other's morals.

  • Salim - 2010-10-07 19:31

    cell c is the biggest rubbish in the world and vodacom aint far behind our cellphone networks sucks and ICASA is parading doing nothing as usual the lazy bastards

  • Bruce Mackenzie - 2010-10-07 20:03

    Vodacom/MTN/ASA are in my opinion part of system set up in SA to screw the consumers.

  • Callie Cilliers - 2010-10-07 20:04

    Cell C cant give me proper service as a prepaid phone user.I get SMSs informing me of messages on my phone while my phone does not ring or register a missed call.They force me to make a call to the caller that called me in the first place.This only started happening after we cancelled our contract in April 2010 and went on prepaid.I would like to know if other prepaid customers experience the same problem.I have reported this many times even to Trevor with not even a response.

  • Sam - 2010-10-07 20:30

    That silly bugger who claimed to be the MD of cell C was patronising in the extreme ...

  • 5G - 2010-10-07 23:26

    Their whole Trevor Noah stunt is a sham and smacks of dishnesty as well. Are they Cell C - as in prison cell C?

  • Chris - 2010-10-08 04:46

    As dishonest as Tell Trevor campaign. He's put his face to the brand for oney full stop.

  • @ Trevor - 2010-10-08 04:49

    We await Trevor taking appropriate action. What you gonna do Trev, reimburse the money they pay you to endorse them? I'm watching you Trev.........

  • mp - 2010-10-08 06:38

    That is SO funny. Vodocom and MTN "care".. Oh please... we are not all stupid. Vodocom and MTN are green with all the Cell C advertising that is taking place. Vodocom/MTN care - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • Paulie - 2010-10-08 07:05

    This "technicality" may still leave Cell C with egg on its face. If you can't trust what they convey to you - that they may be trying to "con" prospective subscribers, how do you know they will make good on their promises once they've hooked you?
    I think I'd rather stick with the devil I know. If we have reached a stage where we have to look at anything a company (like Cell C) says, then there can be no future trust. Rather the truth the whole truth... warts and all.

  • Ranter - 2010-10-08 07:06

    Vodacom's Richard Boorman tell me sunshine why I can never connect via 3G on your crappy network for longer than 60 seconds before the connection is dropped to GPRS. You guys are the pot calling the kettle black. Vodacom should be investigated for the crap they are selling as a cell network. Vodacom only care about ripping the public off. Stop fighting with cell C who seem to give a damn about their customers and fix your mess.

  • Bobbejaan - 2010-10-08 07:16

    the biggest mistake Cell C made was to get this Noah person to be the face of their campaign.