Apple is once again in hot water again over British TV ads for its iPhone 3G. An ad that repeatedly showed an iPhone 3G accessing data “really fast” was recently ruled “likely to mislead” by the country’s Advertising Standards Authority. The ad has been banned from British airwaves, with the ASA telling Apple that “[t]he ad must not appear again in its current form.”
Apple defended the ad by saying that the claims were general in nature and meant to reflect the improvements over its original, EDGE-based iPhone. The company also pointed to disclaimer text that stated, “network performance will vary by location,” and said that the average viewer would know that a 30-second spot would be simplified for illustration purposes. But the ASA disagreed, instead arguing that the average viewer would believe that the iPhone “actually operated at or near to the speeds shown in the ad.” Indeed, 17 people filed claims to that effect with the ASA, resulting in the ban.
Earlier this year, Apple faced a similar ban on an ad that claimed, “all the parts of the Internet are on the iPhone.” The ASA determined the claim to be misleading because the iPhone didn’t support Flash or Java. We could argue that Flash and Java runtimes, while often utilized by some websites, aren’t part of the W3C standards. But ASA’s stand was that they are common enough that the average person would consider them one of the “parts of the Internet.”.