ASA Pulls ‘Misleading’ iPhone 3G Ad

Too late was the cry...?

It’s not been the greatest week for the iPhone 3G so far, has it? Firstly the iPod touch 2G has been revealed to have a faster clocked CPU (making it far zippier in general) and now this…

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today upheld 17 complaints levelled at the handset’s original launch ad. You know the one:

”So what’s so great about 3G? It’s what helps you get the news, really fast, find your way, really fast. And download pretty much anything, really fast. The new iPhone 3G. The Internet, you guessed it, really fast.”

Which as we all know is arse – as it is with any 3G handset. ”Faster” sure, but not “really fast” – after all even IF 3G connections operated at anywhere near their theoretical maximums consistently the hardware inside the device simply couldn’t render web pages, display large attachments, etc quickly enough to keep up let alone match the iPhone ad. For example, I opened a 2MB image file sent to me via email today and my iPhone 3G took about 10 seconds to display it ”after” it was downloaded.

Of course Apple defends itself with the small on-screen text: “Network performance will vary by location” and commented that the ad was “relative rather than absolute in nature”.

The ASA wasn’t impressed: “Although we acknowledged that the majority of viewers would be familiar with mobile telephones, we considered that many might not be fully aware of the technical differences between the different types of technology. We also noted the ad did not give an explicit indication of a comparison with the older 2G iPhone.”

It continued “We noted the voice-over claim “really fast” was used in conjunction with each of the functions shown in the visuals. Although we noted the on-screen text disclaimer, “network performance will vary by location”, we considered that the visuals, in conjunction with the repeated use of the claim “really fast”, were likely to lead viewers to believe that the device actually operated at or near to the speeds shown in the ad. Because we understood that it did not, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.”

The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading Advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence), 5.2.2 (Implications) and 5.4.1 (Visual techniques and special effects).

Of course perhaps the major factor in all this has been missed for despite stating “The ad must not appear again in its current form” the time taken for the ASA to deliver its verdict means the ad has already gone and any attempts to ‘mislead’ already achieved…

ASA Ruling

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