When he’s not busy helping Benedict Cumberbatch solve mysteries in Sherlock or popping up as the ‘Tolkien white guy’ in Marvel’s Black Panther, you’re more likely to see Martin Freeman on the telly getting into various connectivity-related mishaps.
His partnership with Vodafone has seen him star in several adverts, like being chased down via a GPS tracking device after taking the wrong bag, or trying to dodge spoilers on a train full of people all watching the same thing.
But there’s one advert you probably haven’t been seeing on TV a lot recently after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled it to be misleading to customers.
Vodafone UK’s ‘Customer Service Guarantee’ advert features Martin Freeman in a car, apparently attempting to break up with his girlfriend, only for it to be revealed that he’s actually trying to get out of his phone contract instead.
According to the ASA’s ruling, the advert implied that Vodafone UK customers would be able to leave a contract at any time, when the guarantee actually only applied to the initial 30-day period.
The advert was intended to highlight Vodafone’s 30-day guarantee, compared to other service providers’ 15-day grace period, but after complaints from 11 viewers who challenged the commercial, the ASA ruled that the advert was ambiguous and it must not appear again in its current form.
“Whilst we acknowledged Vodafone’s reference to the small print which referred to the terms and conditions on the website, we did not consider that this altered the impression presented by the ad,” the ASA ruling said.
Vodafone UK was also told by the ASA that its future advertising must “not misleadingly imply that their service guarantees applied at any point during a contract other than the cooling-off period”. A spokesperson for the company said that it would make sure its 30-day rule was clear in its marketing.
“Our ‘love us or leave us’ 30-day service guarantee is the best in the market,” a Vodafone spokesperson told BBC News.
“We already make clear that the 30 days is from the start of a customer’s contract in our terms and conditions, and will also make sure this is totally clear in our marketing.”
Sadly, if you were hoping to see Freeman appear on TV in a non-Vodafone role in the near future, you’ll be left disappointed as Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss recently confirmed that it won’t be back with season 5 anytime soon.
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