The world of advertising really is a funny little place with rules all of its own.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), after due process and no doubt meticulous deliberation, has ruled that Motorola's TV advert labelling the Atrix as “the world's most powerful smartphone” is misleading, and therefore cannot be run again.
The ruling comes on the back of two complaints from Samsung users, who wrote to the ASA pointing out that the Galaxy S II has a faster processor, which makes it more powerful.
The ASA sided with Samsung, ruling that Motorola's claim would confuse customers who took a look at the specification of the two phones and saw that the Samsung had the faster processor, and that “the claim 'the world's most powerful smartphone' had not been substantiated by comparative evidence”.
Yet surely these are precisely the people who would NOT have been confused? It's the people who were never going to look at the spec in the first place that Motorola was targeting with the ad – people who like impressive adjectives rather than actual figures.
Here's how the ASA describes Motorola's justification for making the claim: “Motorola said, although the Samsung Galaxy S II i9100 had a slightly faster processor, it did not operate the unique computer-like accessory ecosystem that the Atrix did.
“It said the advert did not claim the Atrix’s processor was the fastest, but rather focused on the combined features of the performance and capability of the product.”
And here the game is given away. Motorola was falling back on one of the oldest advertising tricks in the book – the qualitative claim that can't be quantified. In other words, you can get away with claiming your product is the best looking, or the fastest, or the most luxurious, or the yellowest, whatever you like – so long as there's no broadly accepted measure for proving one way or the other.
In this case, Motorola has discovered that even though processor clock speed and power are technically not the same thing, in the context of today's smartphone market, one is seen as a fairly reliable measure of the other.
But there's another point worth making about all this. Considering the fuss that's been made here, you'd assume the brave souls who first brought this shameful assault against the truth into the public eye were doing so after having been caught out themselves by Moto's advertising trickery.
But have a look again. The complaints to the ASA weren't lodged by disgruntled Atrix owners that had handed over their hard-earned cash only to realise they had been duped. They came from Samsung Galaxy S II owners.
So after all that, could this simply be a case of Samsung fanboys 1, common sense 0?