Watchdog bans iPhone ad

Apple has been told not to repeat a TV advert for its iPhone 3G mobile phone. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad was misleading because it implied that users would enjoy faster download speeds than the device actually achieves.

The advert stated: "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."

The ad showed a close-up of the product being used to surf a news webpage, view the Google maps service and download a file. All the actions had waiting times of only a fraction of a second. On-screen text stated: "Network performance will vary by location".

Seventeen viewers complained that the ad was misleading, because they believed it exaggerated the speed of the iPhone 3G.

Apple said that the implication of the advert was that the 3G iPhone was faster by comparison to the original iPhone. It said that viewers would understand that the ad was "simplified" to allow an illustration of the device.

The ASA disagreed. It ruled that the ad was misleading, noting that the ad "did not give an explicit indication of a comparison with the older 2G iPhone."

"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," said the ASA.

"Because we understood that it did not, we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead," it ruled.

Apple was told not to repeat the advert in its current form.