Watchdog bans "fake" Skype ad in UK

London, UK – A UK television commercial for Skype has been banned, after regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decided that the company had faked the quality of images.

The ad showed a new father showing off his baby to his parents via Skype video – with a crystal-clear picture and perfect sound.

Five viewers – presumably Skype users themselves – complained, saying the advertisement misleadingly exaggerated the sound and picture quality that could be achieved by using Skype.

Skype defended the commercial, saying that the quality of a Skype call was dependent on the quality of broadband connection, and that the call had to be faked for technical reasons.

“Skype said they wanted the ad to show a Skype video call in its best light and therefore used equipment to demonstrate the best possible quality that could be achieved,” said the ASA. “They explained that, for technical reasons, they were unable to shoot the ad with a webcam and what was shown in the ad was not a real time Skype video call; a webcam did not possess the quality for the recording to be compressed and then outputted for a TV ad.”

The ASA said that it accepted these points, adding that it was not against the rules to use a simulation when technical issues meant that the real thing wasn’t possible.

However, in its adjudication, it concluded: “We considered that viewers would infer that the sound and picture quality depicted in the ad was typical of the performance that all users could achieve. Consequently, because we understood that that was not the case at the present time, we concluded that the ad could mislead.”

 A Skype spokesperson commented: “We are disappointed to see ASA’s ruling regarding our recent advertising campaign for Skype video.  As with any software technology, a number of factors (hardware, broadband quality) influence the final output of a product.  The purpose of the campaign was to simply demonstrate how a Skype video call can connect people across the world.”