Motorola's 300 phone tests not enough proof for ASA

Manufacturer failed to show evidence of durability - despite conducting 300 tests

Stewart Mitchell
9 Nov 2011

Motorola's claims that its Defy ruggedised handset was “life proof” have been shot down by the ads watchdog due to lack of evidence - despite the manufacturer running 300 tests.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling centres on adverts that showed the handset being dropped in a nightclub and splashed near a pool, alongside claims the Defy was “dance floor proof”, “splash proof” and “life proof”.

Yet some customers that bought the handset disagreed and complained to the ASA after their phones broke when they were dropped.

“Three complainants challenged whether the ads misleadingly exaggerated the durability of the mobile phone, because they had dropped their phones accidentally and the screens had cracked,” the ASA said in its case report.

We also noted, however, we had not seen any evidence that directly reflected the dropping scenario depicted in the ads

In response, Motorola said it believed the ads were not misleading and did not exaggerate the capability of the Defy, claiming the handset had been subjected to 300 drops during testing.

The tests showed a 1.5% probability of the product failing due to material damage, Motorola said, adding that of the 1.5% failure, only 0.1% was due to broken screens.


In fact, the ASA agreed that the Defy was more rugged than most handsets, but ruled against the manufacturer because it couldn't provide evidence of drop tests that matched the video shown in the adverts.

“We considered viewers were not likely to interpret the ads as suggesting the product was entirely damage-resistant or that there would not sometimes be faulty handsets,” the authority said. “We also noted, however, we had not seen any evidence that directly reflected the dropping scenario depicted in the ads.

“Because we had not seen evidence that dropping the Defy from the height shown in the ads would not damage the phone, we concluded that the ads misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product."

The ASA ruled that the ads must not be broadcast again in their current form and told Motorola to “ensure future ads did not misleadingly exaggerate the performance of products”.

Motorola said it was training staff to recognise and differentiate product abuse from accidental damage so that customers with a genuine fault received a repair or replacement in line with their product promise.

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