Sony Ericsson Phone Ad Ruled Misleading Over Facebook Claims

By John Plunkett: Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) breached UK advertising rules by exaggerating a mobile phone’s ability to use Facebook, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled today.

The television ad for the Satio phone, featuring a woman using the handset to take photos and chat with friends, showed the screen displaying icons for several applications including social networking site Facebook. A voiceover said: “Packed with applications and more available to download.”

A viewer who bought the phone complained that the ad was misleading because it did not come with the Facebook application, which appeared to be incompatible with the handset.

The ASA upheld the complaint, ruling that the use of the Facebook logo and the voiceover was likely to mislead viewers.

In response, Sony Ericsson said a software problem meant the Facebook application had initially not been available on the phone but could now be downloaded from its application website and used on the Satio.

But Clearcast, the body responsible for clearing scripts for TV commercials, said it had “received assurance from Sony Ericsson that the Facebook application was pre-loaded on to the handset”, adding that the commercial would not have been cleared had Sony mentioned the software problem.

The ASA said: “Because the ad implied the application was either pre-loaded on the phone or would be available to download, and because this was not the case at the time the ad was broadcast, we concluded the ad was misleading.”

“The ASA acknowledged that links installed on the phone allowed users to access the Facebook website via the phone’s internet browser. However, we understood that this was not the same as the phone being able to run the Facebook software application, which would offer better functionality and a faster user experience.”

This article originally appeared in © Guardian News & Media Ltd..