Top 10 tech advert fails

7. BT Infinity ironic fail August 2010

Buzz Lightyear wouldn't have been too keen on BT's Infinity ad, which promoted a service promising "instant internet."

Four complaints were lodged with the ASA, suggesting the "instant" claim in the commercial was misleading.

BT believed consumers would understand the term "instant" did not mean there would be no delay whatsoever, even providing the comparison of instant coffee. The ASA did not agree.

Neither was it happy with BT's claims its fibre services could upload a 9MB video in eight seconds and download a 6MB song in just three seconds.

"We noted that BT had provided a list of the times they believed it would take to complete the activities stated in the ad, using their fibre optic broadband," the ASA said.

"However, we also noted that we had not seen evidence that substantiated those times."

6. iPhone 3G not 'really' that fast August 2008

"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."

That was what Apple claimed in one of its TV ads and it ended up with 17 people complaining it purveyed a false interpretation of how fast the smartphone actually was.

Apple said the claims "were relative rather than absolute." ASA said the ad misled consumers into believing the phone actually worked as fast as it did in the ad. And that was the end of that.

5. Mafia Wars ad fried on Facebook July 2010

Mafia Wars is a contentious title as it is, so when an ad for the game ran on Facebook featuring a hoody wearing a knife, it was likely to draw some attention.

Just one complaint was registered with the ASA, however, suggesting the ad was irresponsible as it promoted knife use and condoned violent behaviour.

Zynga Game Network, the Mafia Wars creator, stressed the game nor the ad featured any actual depictions of violent crime and Facebook itself had given the promotion approval. The game company also said the ad was targeted at an adult audience which would understand the context of the ad.

However, Facebook ended up removing the ad by its own prerogative, as it breached advertising guidelines prohibiting images of weapons.

The ASA said the ad was "aggressive and threatening" and "glamorised and condoned violence." The complaint was upheld and the ad was removed.

4. Vodafone radio terms too fast September 2008

Small print is such a surreptitious inclusion it makes many people's blood boil. When it is condensed down to verbal form for a radio advert, it can be even more irritating.

One listener was suitably infuriated by a Vodafone advert for the communications giant's Endless Summer campaign. At the end of the promotion a woman speedily spurted out these terms and conditions: "Subject to status, availability and connection to 18-month contract. Unlimited calls to landlines or Vodafone Mobiles only. Fair-use policy, terms and 60-minute call cap applies."

The ASA simply said the words were said too quickly, were not clearly audible and could therefore mislead listeners. Amusing, considering Vodafone is a company that relies so much on the clarity of communications.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.