In the month of March, OnePlus had announced the Best Smartphone Contest where a lucky winner would win Rs 1 crore. This was a huge campaign that has been heavily marketed on YouTube, Television and offline by Brand. The campaign had a setup on the lines of the KBC quiz show with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan asking a question and directly claiming that the OnePlus 3T is the best-rated smartphone. You could read more about the campaign on Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle and few other publications to get an idea on the format of this TVC.
After a few weeks of going live, Sony had filed a case against OnePlus claiming that they have copied their show format.
In order to judge if a Smartphone is the best or not you have to go through hundreds of factors & then do a bold announcement like this. But in this case, OnePlus seem to have openly targeted their competitors and come up with an advertisement that was clearly in favor of the brand. After 2 months of complaining to The Advertising Standards Council of India, we have finally received the following communication regarding the advertisement from OnePlus.
The complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) at their meeting.
The Advertiser was offered an opportunity for Personal Hearing with the ASCI Secretariat. The advertiser representatives did not seek a personal hearing and submitted their written response through their Advocates. Advocate on behalf of the advertiser states that the advertisement is a bona fide promotion of the OnePlus Smartphone based on factual data verified and substantiated by the Nielsen's Report. The questions posed in the Advertisement are of a subjective nature and the response depicted is based on the Amazon.in consumer ratings, duly verified and substantiated by the Nielsen's report dated March 1, 2017. As claim support data, the advertiser provided a copy of this Nielsen's Report.
The claim support data was reviewed by the technical expert of ASCI. The CCC viewed the TVC and considered the Advocate's response as well as the opinion of Technical expert presented at the meeting. The CCC noted that the Commercial begins with a large display/logo of "Best Smartphone Contest", even though the question is specifically based on consumer ratings i.e. "Which is the best-rated smartphone in India?" with a disclaimer, that the question is based on current model smartphone ratings on Amazon.in. This is likely to create confusion in viewers' minds that the ratings on the smartphone on Amazon.in are equivalent to ratings of the Best Smartphone across India. The number of that rating OnePlus 3T on Amazon may not be an indication of the special preference of OnePlus 3T, but merely that of an exclusive relationship that the brand historically had with Amazon. Other brands are retailed through multiple channels, and only those customers who have purchased from Amazon are invited to rate the brand purchased on their website. No verification or validation of customer responses on Amazon website has been done to ensure that those offering their ratings for display on their website are genuine, independent buyers. Claims used in advertising need to be clearly shown as being impartially collected, independent of the sponsor. No such proof has been offered.
The CCC observed that in fact, Nielsen has specifically mentioned in their disclaimer that they "don't hold any claim related to the methodology, accuracy, respondent profile, representativeness, etc. of the customer ratings". Two other Apple brands (iPhone 5c and iPhone 6s) also have the 4.4 customer rating that has been obtained by OnePlus 3T on Amazon. Since the commercial begins with a prominent logo of the "Best Smartphone Contest" and then has 100%25 of the audience going for OnePlus 3T, the 'shaming' of every other smartphone is implicit. The CCC concluded that the claim, "One Plus 3T is the best-rated smartphone in India", is misleading by ambiguity and implication. The TVC contravened Chapter I.4 of the ASCI Code. The complaints were UPHELD.
We have asked the advertiser to withdraw or modify the said advertisement by May 24, 2017. If you continue to see the said advertisement after the due date kindly bring the same to our attention.
Following is a Copy of the Communication of ASCI with us at PhoneRadar.
Our Take: We respect the brand OnePlus for the Innovation and the unique marketing they adopt to promote their product because of which we had event covered a story around them in 2015. Titled as OnePlus Smartest Phone Brand of this Decade. This was because of the unique ways of promoting and launching their products but the recent campaign was something we didn't expect from them. You cannot ambiguously shame other brands on the context of calling your product the best one when other players aren't even selling their products on the mentioned marketplace. We have forwarded this story with the brand for an update.