You know those ads where some vacant kid declares that Windows 7 was his idea? Well, they have them in the UK, too.
And the Advertising Standards Authority there has ruled that it’s perfectly reasonable for Microsoft to assert that a girl called Alice invented the ability to record and watch TV on a laptop.
She had to, because her rugby-playing boyfriend had smashed the television with a badly-aimed pass.
“So I had an idea. What if my laptop could become our new telly?” she says. “Well, suddenly with Windows 7, you can watch and record your favourite TV shows right on your PC… I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea.”
But according to the ASA, eight viewers suspected that it wasn’t her idea at all. Indeed, they pointed out, there was nothing new about the ability to do this – on other operating systems at least.
Microsoft said it didn’t believe that the ad stated or even implied that the ability to watch TV programmes on a PC was a new technology – or that it was a function exclusive to Windows 7. In any case, it said, it wasn’t planning to use the ad again.
Meanwhile, the company’s advertising agency, Traffic Bureau, was also called to defend itself. It said the ad was a joke, goddammit – or “overtly fictitious events with a comedic tone,” as the company so wittily put it.
“We considered that, in the context of the ad as a whole, most viewers would infer that the ad was highlighting a functionality of Windows 7 rather than claiming that the ability to watch and record TV on a PC was a new technology,” says the ASA. “We therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading.”