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What The Banned iPhone Ad Should Really Look Like 463

Posted by samzenpus
from the truth-in-advertising dept.
Barence writes "To demonstrate just how misleading the latest (and now banned) iPhone television ad really is, PC Pro has recreated it using an iPhone 3G and a Wi-Fi connection — with laughable results. Apple was forced to pull the advert today after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decided it exaggerated the speed of mobile browsing. 'In the 30-second clip the iPhone is shown loading a webpage, finding its current location in Google Maps, opening a PDF from an email and finally taking a phone call. The ASA concluded that the iPhone cannot do what was shown in the mere 29 seconds afforded in the advert, ruling that it was misleading.' Try it for yourself and you'll undoubtedly agree."
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What The Banned iPhone Ad Should Really Look Like

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  • Jeez... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Abstrackt (609015) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:55AM (#25909085)

    The commercial is done by the time they finish with Google.

    Maybe if they'd put a warning similar to "screen images simulated, not really an iphone, 5x speed, etc." it wouldn't have been pulled.

  • App store (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pzs (857406) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:56AM (#25909091)

    There's a similar advert for the app store here in the UK. It has some guy instantly downloading and using games, location software and so on. It has an amusing "actual sequence speeded up" disclaimer at the bottom, rather like those cosmetics adverts that say "some post-processing done on model".

    Why don't they just say "this advert is a total lie, but it looks pretty and you're a gullible moron, so buy buy buy!"

    What bugs me about the app store advert is that it finishes saying "this is going to change everything!" No, it isn't - it's another incremental improvement on smart phones, which is quite similar to many competing products. Ever since I found out about the reality distortion field [wikipedia.org] I've started noticing that Apple try to use this in all their advertising.

  • Not a good example (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mini me (132455) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:56AM (#25909097)

    Notice that PC Pro had to unlock the phone, whereas Apple already had the phone unlocked. There are other instances in the video where the PC Pro demonstrator fumbled to press the right button. All of these things add up the time significantly. Apple didn't need any special effects at all to cut down on the time PC Pro gives us.

  • by Verteiron (224042) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:58AM (#25909111) Homepage

    You're telling me there's an organization that actually checks advertisements for false and misleading information, and has the power to pull blatant lies off the air? When did this happen?

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:58AM (#25909113) Homepage Journal

    Apple should really be slapped for repeatedly misrepresenting [brej.org] their products

    Who doesn't? Went to Wendy's the other day and got a #2 combo because it looked pretty awesome on the order board. Got back to the office and opened it up to discover something pretty gross looking, a mash of squashed bun and grey meat. Yum. This isn't a rare case, and is pretty much the norm of advertising.

    Are you as awesome as your resume paints you to be?

  • Beauty treatments (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrMickS (568778) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @11:58AM (#25909115) Homepage Journal

    Its a shame that the ASA doesn't come down with the same force on the incessant bombardment of beauty treatments we have with obviously fake material in them. I mean there is one for getting rid of deep set wrinkles, in the before shot the actress is frowning, in the after shot she's not. Viola! The wrinkles have gone!

    I guess the problem is that the there isn't the degree of competitive scrutiny going on. All of the beauty companies pull the same trick so no one wants to upset the Apple cart.

  • News at 11! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosmocain (1060326) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:00PM (#25909129)
    Advertisements not telling the truth.

    Next up: Giant footsteps in Alaska not done by Yetis - Signs of prehistoric giantmice found.
  • Whatever... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bentov (993323) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:00PM (#25909133)
    Yea, well some of us don't believe most of the things we see on TV, so I have to ask, why is this news? I don't really think I can drive 60mph on a sheet of ice like I see in BMW commercials all the time, I don't think they should pull their commercials because they are not true.
  • by SchizoStatic (1413201) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:02PM (#25909159) Homepage Journal
    The "actual" time was move twice the time of the commercial. Hard to believe a few fumbles could cause that much of an increase of time. It mostly was waiting on the web pages to load. Or the picture to load as it was moved.
  • by AlterRNow (1215236) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:13PM (#25909241)

    Just to clarify, if the Apple advert says "Fast browsing" then you will most likely focus on the time it takes to browse in the advert, so it isn't immediately obvious that that might not be "true".

    On the other hand, it's pretty easy to guess that you couldn't fix a light in another building from your phone. And that a Citroen C4 doesn't transform into a dancing robot

  • by NitroWolf (72977) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:15PM (#25909263)

    Notice that PC Pro had to unlock the phone, whereas Apple already had the phone unlocked. There are other instances in the video where the PC Pro demonstrator fumbled to press the right button. All of these things add up the time significantly. Apple didn't need any special effects at all to cut down on the time PC Pro gives us.

    Oh please, you freaking shill. So he fumbled a few buttons... did he fumble FIVE TIMES AS LONG as the advert? Hell no, don't be an idiot.

    The ad is a lie. Just like "It just works" campaign is a lie. Apple is full of lies.

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:15PM (#25909269)

    Uh their ad showed it to be 4x as good as it really is. If i went to wendys and got a 1/16th pounder i'd be pretty pissed. If on my resume I said I could build a bathroom to finished in 4hours they would likely be disappointed. Beyond that their speed was the WHOLE advertisement.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:21PM (#25909313) Homepage Journal

    Uh

    Don't start replies with Uh. It's combative and makes you look like a dink.

    their ad showed it to be 4x as good as it really is. If i went to wendys and got a 1/16th pounder i'd be pretty pissed

    I'm hardly defending Apple here, but I think "4x as good" is rather ridiculous. While you seem to think a 1lb'r would be "4x as good" as a 1/4lb, in the Wendy's example I consider what I got 1/10th as satisfying as what's promised on the board (and it would be even worse if they just stuck more meat on it). Instead of a burger bursting with delicious veg, I got some piece of crap that I considered just tossing.

    The ad had someone doing tasks at a rate that no one would ever do them. No, people don't jump around pages like that generally, scrolling a PDF for a second and looking up an address (with zero text entry) in milliseconds, instantly absorbing it.

    Which is why it was an obvious exaggeration, which is pretty much the case for virtually all ads. I'd rather all ads were a lot more honest (in the case of fast food restaurants it should require random photos of randomly served dishes at regular intervals), but it seems a bit laughable to make such a big deal out of Apple.

  • by linuxwrangler (582055) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:27PM (#25909371)

    It is the norm. It should not be.

    I believe that the standard should be that the advertisement must show an accurate representation of the average product as it will be delivered to the consumer. To do otherwise, is fraud.

    That includes Wendy's and all the rest of the fast-food crowd. In fact, pretty much all food advertising. (Many years ago the Wall Street Journal had a very funny article about making food adverts. Jello was mixed at several times the usual concentration to keep it solid under the lights. Tensions got high on the set and someone hurled a jello chunk at someone else. The other person ducked and the jello rebounded off the wall like a superball.)

    How about stores? I sure wish the nearby Safeway were bright, clean and open instead of old, dingy and cramped.

    The before/after pics for weight-loss schemes would be pretty funny.

    Oh, sorry. Lost myself for a moment there. Forgot that it is our Patriotic Duty to buy into the advertising fantasies in order to keep the economic fantasy growing.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:47PM (#25909567) Homepage Journal

    The really rich thing is that people are defending Apple's advertising by comparing it to ads from a Hamburger Stand.

    I'm not defending Apple's ad. I'm also curious what makes it "really rich" comparing it with a "hamburger stand" (if a worldwide network of food retailers can be called that...) -- false or overstated advertising is the *norm*.

    Show me a resort ad that doesn't show a couple with seemingly kilometers of empty beach to themselves (versus the reality that it's a tourist trap full of thousands upon thousands of people just like you).

    Ads *should* be honest and real. But they aren't, and people somewaht get use to that.

  • by causality (777677) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:52PM (#25909603)

    Don't start replies with Uh. It's combative and makes you look like a dink.

    Just to make sure I have this right, do you mean to imply that telling people how they should express themselves is not combative and does not make you look like a "dink"? Or is this more of an "it's okay when I do it" situation?

    Which is why it was an obvious exaggeration, which is pretty much the case for virtually all ads. I'd rather all ads were a lot more honest (in the case of fast food restaurants it should require random photos of randomly served dishes at regular intervals), but it seems a bit laughable to make such a big deal out of Apple.

    I think the only reason why Apple might appear exceptional is because they were required to pull the ads. Normally advertisers use various propaganda techniques to give a certain impression that may be true or false but they do it without actually making verifiably false statements. They might say "9 out of 10 dentists recommend brand X toothpaste!" instead of "9 out of 10 dentists recommend brand X toothpaste after we paid them a large amount of money!" even though both would be true and even though they only asked 10 individuals instead of doing anything remotely like a proper study of a representative sample.

    I very much like your idea about fast-food advertisements. I don't think the burgers in the ads are even edible most of the time (lots of plastic or other things you really wouldn't want to eat) although I regret that I don't have a source/reference handy. Advertising in general, or at least the way it is currently done, is something that I believe a more enlightened society would view as either a great evil or at least a corrupting influence. It's a happy smiling face on what is straight up manipulation and the power of its influence is often underestimated. If it were otherwise, then why the need to exaggerate, misrepresent, and selectively omit facts (not just talking about Apple)?

    Healthy people who can think for themselves don't need to be constantly told what to eat, what to drink, where to go, what to buy, for whom to vote, etc. They just need to know what their options are, which is a far simpler affair. To give what I hope isn't a bad analogy, it would be more like "client pull" and less like "server push". I consider obsolete or irrelevant any business model that would collapse if this were the norm, no matter how large or widespread it may be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @12:54PM (#25909623)

    i didn't read what ASA said, but I watched the ad. What puts it over the edge is that the voice-over is entirely about how 3g is great because it makes everything "really fast." The words "really fast" are repeated 3 or 4 times, and used as the tag-line at the end of the commercial. so the commercial isn't just advertising the iphone in general; it's specifically advertising how fast it is, along with a demonstration of how fast it is. except that demonstration is fake.

    for the wendy's comparison, imagine if wendy's ran a commercial with the pictures of the food that you saw and had a voice over saying "wendy's has great looking hamburgers. they look really good. they are fantastic looking hamburgers." Whereas the pictures on the menu are just representing their food in a ludicrously positive light, that commercial would be outright lying.

  • by flux (5274) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:07PM (#25909703) Homepage

    Well, if they also spelled out "What's great about this product is that you get something that looks like THIS!" in their advertisement, I'd get the picture someone would complain.. Had the Apple ad plainly told "iPhone is great, it can do all this" without emphasizing on the speed, few people would have problem with that.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:13PM (#25909745)
    If the advert said "Blackberry Storm - remotely fixes neon lights", then yes - the ad would be pulled. Apple says "look how quick this phone is", when it isn't anywhere near as quick as they say. That is clearly lying - not inferring some obviously impossible functionality, but straight-up lying about the ability of their handset.
  • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:16PM (#25909763)
    Ah, but the ad in question shows a user blazing through a number of tasks, while the voice-over keeps repeating: "really fast". It's like an auto company coming out with a new model and making a commercial where their car wins an F1 competition while telling the viewers how the new model is "really fast". Except I think most people know it's really quite impossible for some 5-seater to outrun a highly tuned F1 speed rocket, while the idea that the iPhone really is that fast doesn't seem quite as implausible. So yes, I'd say it's pretty misleading.
  • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:16PM (#25909767)
    It's more to do with complaints. People know Shampoo isn't going to turn crappy hair into fantastic model-esque hair, but Apple made claims that could feasibly be true, but which turned out to be far off the mark. That's going to get people irked, and they will bring it to the ASA's attention. Kind of like how Dr. Pepper used to write "Solves all your problems" on their bottles in Germany. That stopped for obvious, and similar, reasons.
  • Totally Unfair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmansworld (950281) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:17PM (#25909777) Homepage

    Okay, that was BS.

    I'm certain that Apple sped things up for the commercial. Big whoop. But I would have been a lot more sympathetic if PC Pro had done anywhere near a realistic comparison.

    The ad starts with the phone unlocked, and the user opening Safari to a pre-loaded page. The fumbling PC Pro fingers slowly unlock the phone and go to Google to find the page, rather than even entering the URL or opening a bookmark!

    How about a realistic comparison? I'd like to see how fast the iPhone can work, not how slow your damn sausage-fingers are at molesting it.

    WARNING: iPhone 3G browsing speeds may be impeded if you're an idiot.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:23PM (#25909813)
    Get a fucking grip. They are talking about a TV advertisement that was straight-up lying its ass off. Bitching and moaning about website advertisements doesn't give Apple the right to do what they are doing. "Two wrongs", etc.
  • by osu-neko (2604) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @01:24PM (#25909825)

    The whole problem with "lying by omission" is that, if you accept that as a valid concept, it follows that no one ever tells the truth, given that practical communications require the omission of details. A complete description of what I did this morning would require the rest of our lives for me to relate to you if I didn't omit details. Communications are only practical when I omit most of the details.

    Assuming I honestly include all details I feel are relevant, I think the statement that "the whole spirit of the resume is...lying by omission" is just plain false. A resume shouldn't be more than two pages, ideally it should be one page. It shouldn't include long lists of irrelevant details. Someone should be able to quickly scan it and see what qualifies you for the job in question. If it has your complete life story instead, it should be thrown in the trash without being read, since it demonstrates your inability to determine what's relevant.

    And yes, I am significantly more awesome than my resume would suggest. ;) A complete description of my work history would not be readable, even quickly, in the 30 seconds max you get before an employer throws your resume into the keeper or toss-out pile.

  • by beowulf (12899) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:35PM (#25910263)
    The ad had someone doing tasks at a rate that no one would ever do them.

    That's why the ad had a countdown timer at the bottom of the screen showing how long it took to perform those tasks. Oh, wait. It didn't.

    What it did do is claim that you can accomplish these tasks quickly by using an iPhone communicating at 3g speeds.

  • by earlymon (1116185) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:42PM (#25910299) Homepage Journal

    This isn't a rare case, and is pretty much the norm of advertising.

    While technically true, I'm more of a glass half-empty sort of guy: I say that the norm is for poor product delivery - and seems to apply to more than just the fast food gang. The trouble isn't that advertising exaggerates (which it does) - the problem is that the products are lousy and rather than improve product, the dollar-dollar-bill-y'all goes to advertising.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:51PM (#25910357)

    You tested it yourself, and it took half as long again than the advert said it would, and therefore the advert is telling the truth?

    Are you dense?

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:54PM (#25910375)

    In real life the iPhone is a little slower, but not really even 2x from the ad - the PC pro actions had the following errors in a test that meant to duplicate the ad:

    1) Pc Pro started with screen locked.

    2) The Apple ad started with a web page that was previously cached before they clicked on a link. The Pc Pro guys started from google, had to type in the URL, then wait for the page to load... that was a HUGE chunk of time over what the ad was doing.

    3) Apple ad zoomed into a portion of the page by double tapping, PC Pro guys sloooowly zoomed using two fingers (with a double hand technique showing the iPhone is about as familiar to them as a flying saucer)

    4) The PC Pro map load was about right, but then again they slooowly zoom in....

    5) I'm wondering just how large that PC Pro PDF was.

    Basically between the two videos, both are not accurate and I agree with pulling the Apple ad - but the Apple ad is way more representative of real world use than the PC Pro video. I don't see you (or anyone else chastising Apple) complaining about those missteps, I wonder what your motivations could be... Apple Hater.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @02:57PM (#25910387)

    Maybe it's meant to reflect the actual user experience, but they spend a lot more time diking around with websites than the iPhone add. They load two webpages instead of one, and spend time scrolling around those webpages, where as the add merely shows the phone zooming in. They also enter the URL manually, while the add shows them only loading a link. They also spend time scrolling around the PDF document, while in the add the user receives a call immediately after the PDF has loaded. Not to mention that they obviously used different sites and files. They also started from the unlock screen instead of the home screen. You can't call something a recreation if you didn't even try to recreate the add.

    Why didn't they actually try to recreate the add ? The iPhone is obviously not that fast over a 3G network (though it is that fast over a 802.11 connection in my experience). What is it about journalists that makes them think they need to exaggerate things that are already plenty bad?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:02PM (#25910415)

    Did you ever stop to think that you are upset because the iPhone is an inadequate computer and not impressed because it's an awesome little phone?

    I realized this the other day when I was thinking the same thing about the browser and I stopped being so upset about the odd crash. I'm not saying forgive all the crashing, but cut your phone a little slack for not being a laptop replacement.

    Disclaimer: My last phone was a Motorola V635, so I haven't actually browsed the web on a phone before.

  • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert&chromablue,net> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:34PM (#25910605)

    Which is why it was an obvious exaggeration, which is pretty much the case for virtually all ads

    Obvious to who? Someone who is seeing all these Apple ads and talking about how much "different" and "better" the iPhone is? Looking up an address without text entry? Might be "obvious" that there's some kind of "automagically linking addresses in text", or "copy and paste", but there's not, too. The selling point of this ad was just how, quote, "really really fast" everything was on an iPhone, except it's not, not anywhere near as fast as the ad implies.

  • by ErnstKompressor (193799) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:40PM (#25910631) Homepage

    ...especially those who insult me, but to make it clear, it is not a question of the ad being truthful so much as PCPro being full of shit. If you cannot understand the difference, then you are the dense one. If I can recreate the series of actions in 48 secs on my first 'attempt' then PCPro is clearly distorting the 'truth'.

    Unless you are simply biased, and note I am the first to say that the iPhone is not the second coming, to criticize any company's advertising on such a tiny, nit-picking issue is moronic. It is not like they said it will cook you breakfast. And I have no doubt I could pare down a few more seconds in order to have an actual 30 second commercial spot. AND they had a fucking disclaimer for christ sake...

    Thanks for participating...

  • by kestasjk (933987) * on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:51PM (#25910673) Homepage
    It's an ad about a $200+ phone, demonstrating how fast the phone is, but the performance displayed was beyond what the phone is physically capable of.

    I don't think the burger comparison is even worth pursuing; that was a $5 burger at a fast food outlet, and theoretically an employee who took the time to make a good one could have given you a burger that looked like the advertised one.

    It's more like if Dell advertised a laptop with hardware specs from 2 years ago and showed it playing Crysis at 40fps. When you got home and your frame rate was 10fps you wouldn't think "oh it's just an ad, I should have expected them to exaggerate the performance"
  • by duckInferno (1275100) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @03:52PM (#25910689) Journal
    First world countries have consumer protection laws. (I am so getting -1 flamebaited for this!)
  • by AnotherUsername (966110) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @04:51PM (#25911025)

    2) The Apple ad started with a web page that was previously cached before they clicked on a link. The Pc Pro guys started from google, had to type in the URL, then wait for the page to load... that was a HUGE chunk of time over what the ad was doing.

    Basically between the two videos, both are not accurate and I agree with pulling the Apple ad - but the Apple ad is way more representative of real world use than the PC Pro video. I don't see you (or anyone else chastising Apple) complaining about those missteps, I wonder what your motivations could be... Apple Hater.

    You are right! I know that in real world web surfing, I always make sure to preload various websites before I actually go to them. I like to go to every website I might encounter throughout the week every Sunday night, because then, when I encounter them on Thursday, they load ultra fast! The news sites were tricky, but ever since I got that flux capacitor installed next to my heat sink, caching future events in my web browser has gotten a whole lot easier. By the way, sorry, but I modded you down next Tuesday. It was a really stupid comment, and you misspelled hippopotamus.

  • by LordVader717 (888547) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:11PM (#25911443)

    Quantifying "goodness" hasn't really got much to do with it. Here are a few things to consider.

    1. The main point of the ad, no the whole point of it was how fast the iPhone performed.
    2. It is not a case of puffery, but appears to be an entirely formal and objective demonstration.
    3. They used an edited video to show off the fast performance despite the fact that the phone is not capable of performing like that.

  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned&gmail,com> on Thursday November 27, 2008 @06:50PM (#25911607)

    But they weren't just advertising it's features, they were advertising that the iPhone is "really fast" repeatedly while doing it. If the guy was talking about what he was doing without reference to the speed it'd be another matter. From the ASA, via the article: "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."

  • by Triv (181010) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @09:05PM (#25912337) Journal

    I don't think the burger comparison is even worth pursuing; that was a $5 burger at a fast food outlet, and theoretically an employee who took the time to make a good one could have given you a burger that looked like the advertised one.

    Assuming said employee had access to toothpicks, Elmer's glue, food coloring, clear epoxy, road salt and black paint, I hope you meant. Food in commercials is constructed like skyscrapers.

  • by Repossessed (1117929) on Thursday November 27, 2008 @10:04PM (#25912603)

    It's an ad about a $200+ phone, demonstrating how fast the phone is,

    I see it more as an ad demonstrating the variety of things it can do. As much as I hate apple, the misleading part appears to be a side effect in this case.

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:41AM (#25913507)

    I thought the job of today's advertising is to warn smart people about what not to buy because it needs serious marketing dollars to move it off the shelves.

  • Typical, indeed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mccabem (44513) on Friday November 28, 2008 @03:40AM (#25914211)

    Indeed.

    Further, it's pretty obvious why the commercial is really laid out in the fashion it is: It shows off far more features and how they work together than would be possible otherwise.

    I'm all for truth in advertising, but only if we're going to apply the same higher standards to everyone. To me this judgement seems both absurd and targeted.

    Last, what alternative are we pushing for with judgements like this? More ads that don't even really feature the product or service being pimped? I know which one I'd prefer.

    -Matt

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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