Apple's G5 Commercial Banned By UK Regulatory Agency

When Apple launched the Power Mac G5, it did so with a claim that the G5 was the worldis fastest personal computer. From Steve Jobs touting this at the WWDC, to promotional messages on Appleis Web site, to a TV commercial that ran for a few weeks, the claim of "worldis fastest" was made loud and clear, and it was backed by test results Apple had commissioned from a third party tester, Veritest.

The hue and cry from the geek world on this issue was a cacophonous howl accompanied by wailing, and a great gnashing of teeth. Anti-Apple partisans claimed that the tests were rigged, while Pro-Apple partisans screamed that the tests were fair, and that the other side had used rigged tests for years, so what was their problem now? Apple itself even took the unusual step of actually responding to the criticism.

In the long run, it turns out that most of Appleis claims for the G5 were born out by real-world testing, while those of us in the States took the "worldis fastest" claim with a measure of marketing salt in the first place. In the UK, however, thatis a flavor of salt that dissatisfied viewers donit have to take, and eight people complained to the Independent Television Commission (ITC), a non-government agency that, "licenses and regulates commercial television services in the UK except S4C in Wales." The ITC, acting in response to those complaints, has ruled that Appleis claim can not be justified, and that the commercial can not be shown as-is on British airwaves.

From the report issued by the ITC:

Apple PowerMac G5

Complaint from: 8 viewers

An advertisement for the new Apple Power Mac G5 claimed it was "the worldis fastest, most powerful personal computer."

Viewers complained that the advertising was misleading because the main claim was based on the results of limited tests in which the specification of the computers used was configured to give Apple the best results.

Prior to broadcast, the [Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centreis (BACC)] independent IT expert raised some concerns, which the advertiser responded to. The BACC was satisfied with the advertiseris further substantiation and approved the commercial.

The advertiser provided the ITC with evidence which it claimed showed that the tests, carried out by an independent third party, were "fair and even."

Due to the technical nature of the advertiseris response, the ITC asked the BACC to refer the complaints and the response to the BACCis expert. He found that the claim was not supported by independent reviews and that at best "the G5 was generally as fast as the best Intel-based workstations currently available."

The ITC considered that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim "worldis fastest, most powerful personal computer". Furthermore, it shared one vieweris doubt that the claim could be substantiated at all because, as evidence for and against the claim had shown, computers were constantly being updated and had many different applications and benchmarks. It reminded the BACC of the importance to obtain solid evidence for such absolute claims. It judged that the advertising was misleading and required that it should not be re-shown in its current form.

Complaints upheld. Breach of ITC Code Rule 5.2.1.

You can find the complaint at the ITCis Web site.