Apple has built one of the strongest brands in the world thanks to savvy marketing and clever advertising but its UK marketing team recently got into trouble for stretching the truth just a little too far. Last week the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) demanded the removal of a recent iPhone 3G television advertisement airing in the UK stating that it exaggerated the speed of the iPhone. However a nearly identical version of the advert has also aired in Australia which would have misled consumers about the iPhone’s speed in exactly the same way.
In the UK seventeen separate complaints were lodged to the ASA complaining about the advert resulting in an ASA adjudication calling for the removal of the advert. The key concern was the advertisement’s repeated use of the term â€œreally fastâ€ especially in regards to Internet downloads and browsing. The voiceover was accompanied by video of an iPhone accessing web pages and applications almost instantaneously.
Apple responded to the complaints by stating that the claims in the ad were â€œrelative rather than absolute in natureâ€ especially as the opening line of the advert asked viewers â€œSo what’s great about 3G?â€. It claimed that this clearly positioned the advert as a comparison of 3G over 2G rather than an accurate representation of how the phone worked in the real world.
PC Pro magazine took it upon themselves to replicate the exact tasks depicted in the advert on a real 3G iPhone. What took 29 seconds in TV land took 2 minutes and 21 seconds in the real world a whopping fivefold increase between fantasy and reality. After watching the UK ad we realised that the Australian Optus iPhone 3G advertisement was almost identical. A quick YouTube search confirmed as much.Considering the much publicised issues with poor performance on the Optus 3G network and our own hands-on time with an Optus iPhone 3G we think the local advertisement is probably even more of an exaggeration than the UK’s.
We’re not sure if the Aussie version of the advert is still being shown although we do recall seeing it in the last week or so. We’ll be in touch with Optus and the Advertising Federation of Australia this week to see if the UK ruling will have any impact on the use of the ad in Australia. Stay tuned.