Watchdog finds ad misleadingly implied device could function in chlorinated water
An ad for an HTC mobile phone featuring the champion diver Tom Daley has been banned for implying that the device can be used in swimming pools.
A Facebook post for HTC U11 seen on 7 December showed Daley using the phone to take selfies while diving from a board and landing in a pool, with the phone in his hand submerged in the water.
A complainant who noted that the instructions for the phone stated it was water-resistant in fresh water challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied the product would work in a pool with chlorinated water.
HTC Europe said the phone could work in different liquid environments for various periods of time, but there were too many variations of water temperature and chemical composition to “provide a statement” that the U11 could be used in most standard swimming pools.
It said that by landing feet-first, Daley was able to keep the U11 within the one metre depth required to remain within the phone’s capabilities.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that the product instructions stated that the U11 was water-resistant in fresh water and should not come into contact with swimming pools, and that the phone was water-resistant to a depth of one metre.
The ASA said: “While we acknowledged that a professional Olympic athlete such as Tom Daley would be able to dive from a 10-metre high diving board and keep within the one-metre distance required, we considered it unlikely that a consumer attempting something similar would be able to avoid being submerged to a depth which did not exceed, even briefly, that measurement.
“Because consumers were likely to understand that the product could deliberately be submerged in a swimming pool and that no precautions were required to be taken after it had been immersed to preserve the product’s performance, and because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad exaggerated the capability of the product and was misleading.”
In January the ASA banned the dating website eHarmony from claiming it had a “scientifically proven matching system”. Upholding a complaint about a billboard ad on London Underground, the watchdog said the claim was misleading because eHarmony could not prove its service provided a greater chance of finding lasting love.
The offending advertisement, which was seen by the complainant in July last year, said: “Step aside, fate. It’s time science had a go at love.” The ASA said the words suggested scientific studies had demonstrated that the website offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love than if they did not use the service.