ASA rules ‘really fast’ iPhone ad ‘misleading’ in UK; bans from future broadcast (with video)

“An Apple iPhone advert has been banned by the advertising standards watchdog for exaggerating the phone’s speed,” BBC News reports.

“The advert boasted the new 3G model was ‘really fast’ and showed it loading internet pages in under a second,” The Beeb reports.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints by 17 people who said the TV advert had misled them as to its speed,” The Beeb reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Here are two of them:

The Beeb continues, “Apple UK said it was comparing the 3G model with its 2G predecessor and its claims were ‘relative not absolute.'”

MacDailyNews Take: All 17 complainants, 15 of whom work for rival ‘smartphone’ makers, said they didn’t really care about Apple’s problems as each of them also had relatives who drank Absolut.

The Beeb continues, “The advert repeatedly stated that the phone was ‘really fast’ and showed news pages and the Google maps service taking just fractions of a second to appear. Text on the screen said: ‘Network performance will vary by location.'”

MacDailyNews Take: All 17 complainants testified that they thought Apple was talking about changing channels on the telly.

The Beeb continues, “”After upholding the viewers’ complaints, the ASA said the advert must not appear again in the same form.”

MacDailyNews Note: The banned ad (if you’re British, turn away):

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Masteroflondon” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: In certain Wi-Fi hotspots private and public (we’re not telling) our iPhones exceed the speeds shown in the advertisement.

(For ASA Council Members and sundry complainants: Wi-Fi is only as fast as the line to which the base station is hooked, therefore not all Wi-Fi access points are created equal. In other words, “Network performance will vary by location.” Aw, forget it.)


  1. My iPhone has on occasion performed at speeds comparable to those shown in the ad, so Apple’s claims are not untrue. What’s disturbing is that in a country with over 60 million people, just 17 of them can, for whatever reason, determine what they all can and cannot be shown.

  2. Wow, so offensive MDN.

    Take a perfectly good article and use it for an opportunity to make fun of the Brits? What’s the point here?

    Everyone knows the ad is actually misleading and that the pages don’t load that fast. Everyone over 40 or so knows that these kinds of ads used to be illegal even in North America.

    The whole upshot of this story is just that in the UK, they still have laws to protect the consumer from misleading ads. So for that you take the time to humiliate and make fun of Brits in general?

    I am seriously disappointed in this bigoted mess MDN presents here. And people wonder why they hate Americans in England.

  3. Advertising Standards Authority seems to be on a very high horse. If you look at their list of ‘adjudications’ for the past week, there are over 20, and as many for previous weeks, each. Even BBC themselves are the the target of one of those (where the complaint was ‘upheld’).

    Advertising standards in the UK are extremely complex and strict. It is of no surprise when foreigners are shocked when they watch American commercials with obvious distortions, embellishments and outright fantasy, all done in order to sell the product. The problem isn’t that the American audiences are smarter and could tell when the truth is stretched (apparently, they can’t any better than non-Americans, as many end up believing the ad statements literally); it is just that no mechanism exists to protect these consumers from making stupid mistakes. The only time an advertiser will put a disclaimer (“Professional driver on a closed road”, or “do not attempt at home”) is when the ad represents something that can clearly be dangerous (and/or lethal) for consumer to do. If the product’s performance is greatly exaggerated, no harm, no foul — consumer’s a fool there.

    I’m sure Advertising Standards Authority of UK often goes a bit too far with their crusades, but it is probably better to have one than not to have it. In the end, it forces advertisers to be more creative and to present their product and message without outright lying.

  4. … and yet Microsoft were able to claim without irony how wonderful their security was on XP and how seriously they took such matters without any trouble at all with the same authority. Seems honesty is in the eye of the beholder and the ASA are about as objective as Steve Balmer when spouting forth on the merits of Windows. It really is time that these nameless characters had their bank accounts investigated.

  5. Come on! no way the iphone is that fast!! I have one here its on my wifi network and in the time it took the ad to play a normal page had not even loaded completely in Safari. So damn right ASA.

    Other points already made re: BBC is that THEY DON”T SHOW ADS!!!! this is a news story so before you, who are ignorant of such facts, please learn something before you mouth off. Thank god that ads are watched in the UK in the states any quack can sell snake oil and get away with it, And you think that is what? Freedom of speech?

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