News Article

Wii U Advert Banned In The UK

Posted by Andy Green

ASA concluded it was "misleading"

A few weeks before Wii U launched in the UK, Nintendo ran an advert showing off a few of the new system's features. One of the elements displayed was the ability to switch the action from the television to the GamePad – the advert showed how a gamer allowed his girlfriend to watch TV while he happily played New Super Mario Bros. U on the GamePad.

The Advertising Standards Authority however has taken action against the commercial after receiving just a single complaint from the British public. The issue in question was that the advert may have been misleading in the way it showed the ability to play games on the GamePad alone.

Nintendo felt that the advert was simply displaying the functional capabilities of the hardware which included the ability to play games on the GamePad; however this was dependant on the feature being incorporated into the title – something that varies from game to game. Nintendo did not believe that the average consumer viewing the advert would think the feature would be on all games.

The ASA upheld the complaint however, saying the following:

The ASA considered that it would be clear to consumers that many of these features would not be available in all games. However, we considered that the option to switch gameplay to the GamePad controller could be available on all games, and as this was a new console consumers would not have an awareness of whether this was something specific to individual games or a general feature of the console. We considered that, in this context, the ad should have made clear that this feature would not be available on all games. Because it did not, we concluded the ad was misleading.

Because of this, the advert may not be shown again in its current form.

The banned commercial is below, do you feel it was misleading? Let us know what you think.

[via asa.org.uk]

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User Comments (80)

Sun

#2

Sun said:

I think ASA is absolutely right (just read their text). Besides, Nintendo has admitted is up to developers to use off-TV properly or not and that they cannot control that.

acelect24

#3

acelect24 said:

What they're saying is correct as a matter of fact, but I really don't understand how people would actually have time to read fine print anyway...

Sun

#4

Sun said:

Lost of ads would be misleading if it was not for their tiny explanatory texts. Problem is, people don't have time to read those tiny texts in the few seconds they appear on-screen, and that should be regulated too.

Mahe

#5

Mahe said:

Have to agree with ASA here. I expected all Wii U games to have an off-TV play mode, but many can only be played with the TV.

Highwinter

#7

Highwinter said:

@TOMBOY25 Because you might buy it thinking you could play a game like Zombi U on the gamepad, without needing the TV at the same time, which is absolutely not the case. It may seem obvious to us, but they do imply that you don't need a TV to play the games, there's no indication that it'll only work on a select few games.

TOMBOY25

#9

TOMBOY25 said:

@Highwinter true but are you stupid enough to buy a console based off a tv advert if you like what you see you research it not just run to the shop.

gavn64

#12

gavn64 said:

this story is stupid like the person who complained does this complainee think the wiiu can also fly?

Bankai

#13

Bankai said:

@TOMBOY25 you're missing the point. Advertising by law can not mislead consumers. It doesn't matter if then if someone is stupid enough to buy the product without further research, the company is still in the wrong.

You would also be surprised how unconsciously effective advertising can be. There's a reason it has to be regulated, it's a psychological fact that its a powerful tool.

And yes, Nintendo was in the wrong here for not being accurate.

Assassinated

#15

Assassinated said:

Every one of the features mentioned in the advert was for features that are not universal for every game. Is it misleading to not be able to shoot throwing stars in a Mario game? Or to have mini games that pause the action in Arkham City, rather than real time like ZombiU? Each feature mentioned was for the specific game being advertised and should not have been taken to be universal for every game on the system. It is a feature that can be utilized, not a feature that must be utilized. Would Kinnect ads be considered misleading to show someone controlling a game with their voice? Apparently if it can't be used for every game it would be misleading to show that feature. This is utterly ridiculous. I don't remember anyone giving Sony any flak for showing off their six-axis motion controls at the PS3's launch. That couldn't be used on every game. Even the Wii did not require the use of motion controls, a feature inherent to the system, but people understood that not every game needed motion controls. Just because it can be done, and is advertised as being done, it does not imply that it must be done, or must be able to be done universally.

TotalHenshin

#17

TotalHenshin said:

@Bankai Your "regulation" statement has no relevance with the discussion. If a company falsely advertises something, there's a court system to sue the company for said false advertisement. Governments don't seek to regulate commercials because they may make a product "too enticing" (re: your "powerful" statement). They do it to, supposedly, make sure that the information presented is not false, and as such, the ASA was likely in the right to tell Nintendo their ad needed to be changed.

Sun

#18

Sun said:

Assassinated: 'Is it misleading to not be able to shoot throwing stars in a Mario game?' Have you heard of common sense?

Shworange

#19

Shworange said:

Why didn't they just have fine print saying, "Off tv play not available on all games."

Assassinated

#21

Assassinated said:

Sun: The first thing they show in the commercial is Takamaru's Ninja Castle for Nintendoland bragging about new control techniques like flicking the throwing stars at the enemies. My point was people shouldn't (and presumably don't) assume that that functionality would be present in all games on the system (like Mario). Why then for the next feature would they assume universality.

Sun

#22

Sun said:

@Assassinated Your examples are:
a) game gameplay: of course it is different for each game.
b) accessories that were launched after the console itself: no way you can assume all games are compatible with them.
On top of that, ASA says this is a new device so of course you can assume you can play without needing a TV when you watch this spot. And most importantly, the OFF-TV display is the main selling point showed on these spots.

AgenTxH

#23

AgenTxH said:

It is not misleading.. it is showing features of the console... shouldn't the disclaimer of weather the feature is used or not be on the games ad and not the console ad?

Assassinated

#25

Assassinated said:

With the accessories I was referring to games that use them anyway (though I did not make that clear). Like with the Kinnect, not all Kinnect games use voice controls. The six-axis controller did come out for PS3 day 1 by the way, and was intact packed in with the system. The thing is that every one of the features listed in the ad were non-universal. Had, for instance, Miiverse been touted, which is a universal feature it might lend more credence to the claim, but I feel that the advert itself makes it obvious that not all games can use this feature. After all it seems impossible for the ninja game to be played exclusively on the game pad.
With the new device argument, all of the devices I mentioned were advertised thusly when they were new. Also, like it or not, the ability to play on the game pad exclusively is a gameplay feature, same as all the others.

Mk_II

#27

Mk_II said:

Acting on only one consumer complaint? Mmm, makes you wonder who complained... her Majesty the Queen?

Assassinated

#28

Assassinated said:

Also, with the off TV play being the second of five features listed, it does not indicate to me that that feature was the most important.

Sun

#30

Sun said:

@Assassinated All the spots I have watched this far advertises the off-TV the most. When I say 'gameplay' I mean the game itself, 'off-TV' is the way it is displayed.

Yes, Kinect was new when it was released but it was not included with the console itself unless you mean specific packs that might have been released time after. About the PS3 6-axis controller, the PS3 console ads did not focus on that and again, it's just the way you control the game, as if it uses more or less bottoms of the controller. The 'off-TV' is the way you can play, without a TV, if you know what I mean. It's a revolution as it means you can play without a TV. Lots of people don't have direct access to one, say your family is using it as the spots like to say, say you still don't have a TV where you are living right now because you just moved or you just study/work there...

cornishlee

#31

cornishlee said:

@Mk_II
That's the way the law works: the ASA is equally as obliged to look into a complaint logged by one person as it is a complaint logged by 1,000 and it is no more obliged to find the complaint of the 1,000 to be accurate than that of the 1. In short it doesn't matter how many complaints the ASA receives it just has to decide whether or not the complaint is legitimate.

WildMan

#32

WildMan said:

It doesn't seem that misleading to me, it just seems like they are pointing out the feature. Also, it seems kinda pointless to ban an ad unless it's blatantly lying. If people are going to go make a $300 purchase off of one ad before doing any research, that's their problem..

Assassinated

#33

Assassinated said:

@Sun: My problem is that it is listing specific new features that can be done on Wii U that cannot be done on other consoles, but does not imply that all or any one of the listed features are able to be used for any game you want to play. Really, each of the features listed was exclusively independent from the others, where none of the features could be used at the same time. Assuming that they are not all optional in each game, then there would have to be games that could not use this feature. When the game pad and the TV showed two different pictures, it implied that the game pad and the TV had to be used conjunctively rather than separately. To anyone paying attention to the ad it was apparent that if the game required you to use the game pad in a way such that it was not simply mirroring the screen, then you clearly could not use off TV play for (at least that part of) the game. While it doesn't explicitly state it, the games shown imply non-universal functionality rather than implying that it could be used for every game. Based on the functionality shown, no-one should expect that they should be able to use this system without attaching a TV. While some games can be played without the larger screen, none of the other functions shown could be used if that we're the case.

FantasiaWHT

#35

FantasiaWHT said:

I love that America has much stronger freedom of speech protections than the rest of the western world.

Assassinated

#36

Assassinated said:

Also, some ads for the PS3 did focus on the six axis control. I'm not sure what you mean by "uses more or less bottoms of the controller."

Sneaker13

#39

Sneaker13 said:

Yeah, it's misleading. The purpose of an ad is for viewers to buy the product. The target audience isn't the gamers, they already know everything about the Wii U and probably already have it. The target audience are (for example) the Wii owners that aren't aware a new console is out, the parents who don't do research and buy items based on advertisement. For them, this ad (and reason 2) is misleading. They want to watch TV, while little Jimmy is playing some Zombi U. Which means they can't wacht tv, or little Jimmy can't play his games. Nobody is happy and they blame the advertisement. So I understand why they complain.

Dogpigfish

#40

Dogpigfish said:

I agree. It is a bit misleading. Not to mention the commercial isn't that good. Should say that many games allow the User to play remotely. I would assume they all did from the commercial and not be happy if I didn't know otherwise.

Dogpigfish

#41

Dogpigfish said:

Ps Vita's commercial showed remote play, but we know that never happened. It was pure false advertising, but I don't recall it getting pulled. UK must have better enforcement for that.

Banker-Style

#42

Banker-Style said:

Right I was mislead by Nintendo,I'm not having this.

I'll be ringing my lawyer asap,and suing Nintendo for all they're worth.

steamhare

#43

steamhare said:

Although this might not pass the idiot in a hurry test, I don't think it misleads consumers. The pad is shown playing games that use both the TV and the gamepad for different activities in the commercial, which any idiot who isn't in a hurry would realize couldn't be played entirely off the gamepad.

Lalivero

#44

Lalivero said:

I would find it understandable if they were working off of multiple complaints, but one? Even then, it looks fine to me, but maybe that's because I was already aware that off TV play wasn't for every game.

Sun

#45

Sun said:

@Assassinated I appreciate that you provide arguments mostly because few people against ASA are doing that here.

What I meant there was that some games do not use all of the gamepad buttons/axis and that affects gameplay only.

My point is that Nintendo should warn 'off-TV' display applies to certain games only. If not somebody might believe they don't need a TV for Wii U, and that is something that would make a lot of people buy the console, the same people who would buy a portable system because they don't have direct access to a TV or cannot use it for themselves only. Examples were provided in my last message.

Problem is people here cannot imagine a situation where they were not forums readers.

Tasuki

#46

Tasuki said:

I have to agree with the ASA on this one. I can see where that can be misleading especially for those that don't know the Wii U too well. Heck even at thought that all games had the off TV play option and it wasnt till I played Nintendoland that I found out thats not the case. However its an easy fix all they have to do is put a disclaimer like Option not available for all games at the bottom of the screen.

ultraraichu

#47

ultraraichu said:

I guess its a good thing nintendo have mention you can use your wii remotes and classic controller to play the games or else people would think that's all you need or you're spending 300+ on a gamepad.

Although I do believe that a little note at the bottom of the screen would be best legal wise, I think banning is a bit harsh from one person. But I guess it's there to also protect the sellers from angry and/or dumb buyers. Well at least they said "the advert may not be shown again in its current form.

theperson

#48

theperson said:

This is misleading but somehow the real false advertising like the lynx 2012 ad where the guy built an ark and loads of women came for an end of world adult party when he put on the deodorant, or shampoo and toothpaste adverts which use ridiculous out of context facts or that ad with the weird faced guy being stroked by a hand of odor coming from his car air freshener aren't misleading? How the hell does that work? (Sorry for the big rad guys)

gekslupis

#49

gekslupis said:

The person who complained really must have been looking for problems considering no one till now has noticed or at least cared to complain

MarioIdent

#50

MarioIdent said:

I've seen much more misleading ads than that...
They didn't really need to remove it...

Assassinated

#51

Assassinated said:

@Sun: I feel that they probably should address this in an ad, that a TV is required, and that off TV play isn't available for all games, but I don't feel that every ad regarding the feature must explicitly state that to avoid being misleading. While it might have been better to include a disclaimer that it cannot be used with every game, I don't feel that the commercial ought to be banned for omitting it. The feature exists, and is used with several games, but for those that use the game pad in unique ways to interact with the TV, it should be understood that the entire experience cannot be delivered on one screen. While A person without a TV could use this console, They ought to understand that they are not getting the full experience, and will be unable to play most of the games for the system. When the ad outlines the unique functionality of the game pad used in conjunction with the TV, it should not be assumed that all of that could be bypassed to play on the game pad alone.

edcomics

#52

edcomics said:

I guess it's technically correct. If they just add "On certain games only," that would probably do the trick. I have to admit, though, I've been annoyed at how the few games I have don't necessarily play on the Gamepad alone. It was a major selling point, but it really is just something that works here and there. For example, I can't shift all the on-screen info to the Gamepad in NintendoLand, like when I hunt for Miis, or the double coins notification.

Also, it seems like most of the time, you're required to have the game running on the big screen to start off, and then switch the action to the smaller screen. I find I can't always start a game on the Gamepad while someone else is watching TV. Makes it seem like the WiiU wasn't entirely well thought out. There's time to improve on this, though, as these are mainly software issues.

AlbertoC

#53

AlbertoC said:

That commercial was banned and deemed misleading thanks to that "XPeria" label at the ending.

(Before someone takes this comment seriously: I know, i know. Just kidding.)

Reef7009

#54

Reef7009 said:

Of course it can be played just on the pad...switch the tv input back to your satellite or whatever you wanna watch and just leave the console on. Simples

LittleKing

#55

LittleKing said:

Why pick the second feature? These are almost all misleading.

#1 "Do things you couldn't do before."

It's up to the developer to "implement" this. It's not applicable to all games. Example, cross platform games with no added features.

#3 "See what you couldn't see before."

Same as #1. The way the advert says it, all games should allow you to look anywhere you want using the pad.

#4

The guy mentions fighting zombies. He doesn't mention you need to buy Zombie U to do that.

#5

The guy mentions seeking out clues. I can't do this in NSMBU so I am disappoint.

All of these are only applicable for sure to the specific game shown in the advertisement and may or may not be applicable to any other titles. This is like complaining about a Wii commercial advertising motion controls because some games don't use them.

Sun

#56

Sun said:

@Assassinated The advertisement is not banned, it cannot be delivered in its current form. Put the words edcomics said 'On certain games only' and problem solved. I own all Nintendo systems since Super NES, I have grown with Nintendo and I thought I could play Wii U without a TV except for specific games such as Nintendo Land.

The spot just need some kind of clarification.

And thanks for replying.

Sun

#57

Sun said:

Actually I think this is even better: 'Off-TV play not available on all games' (by Shworange).

RaylaxStaff

#58

Raylax said:

This happens all the time, lol. It's not exactly uncommon. Nintendo will throw a disclaimer on the bottom and re-submit it. You see ads with far dafter disclaimers on them all the time. Healthcare product advertisements often show some explosive CGI of anthropomorphic talking stomach bugs being nuked by mighty health warriors, and a little strip of white text in the corner clarifies that this is, in fact, a dramatisation (oh, you think?).

The murky world of People Will Moan About Anything, its far easier for all involved for the ad to be taken down. It's actually easier for Nintendo, they don't have to worry about some ridiculous media storm brewing over it, or some opportunist trying to take them to court (not saying that the opportunist would win, but it's not exactly worth the hassle either)

HaNks

#59

HaNks said:

it's something you would presume, i was pretty surprised at the uncertainty and then confirmations about games that would NOT have off-tv play. and the small matter of existing VC and Wii games. after the initial E3 showing it was letdown to learn this feature isn't hard-wired into anything the console outputs.

timp29

#61

timp29 said:

I understand why they made this decision, I think it is reasonable.

I am surprised that they took this action after just a single complaint however.

DarkKirby

#62

DarkKirby said:

For anyone who thinks this decision was reasonable because "false advertising is wrong", you realize that MOST commercials are "misleading" (and that's a vast understatement) right? Do you watch a Redbull commercial and believe you can really fly if you drink it? Do you think 5-Hour Energy gives everyone preciously 5 hours of energy? Did you watch the 3DS commercial and think "wow, what a scam, the things on the screen don't really come out and fly around my room!". The notion that it should be removed for being misleading is ridiculousness, at MOST all Nintendo should have to do is add some fine print at the bottom of the screen that states controller play is determinant on the game and the developer (which is a GOOD thing, FORCING developers to do anything is TERRIBLE), and I'm not saying this as some Nintendo fanboy, I'm saying this as an advocate of free speech.

sweetiepiejonus

#63

sweetiepiejonus said:

This is so stupid. What a waste of time and money. And anyone who is arguing for this must be in law because all it takes to be 'accurate' is a line of microscopic blurry white text, or an auctioneer style reading of the legal mumbo jumbo.

I'm sure people always pause television commercials and get their magnifying glass out to read disclaimers.

Peach64

#64

Peach64 said:

Why the hell are people going on about freedom of speech? This has nothing to do with the issue here. If they put a disclaimer at the bottom saying that the feature only works for certain games, it would be fine they could show it again.

And are people REALLY being serious comparing it to red bull giving you wings and such? Come on! It's entirely feasible people could assume it works for every game from seeing this ad.

mastersworddude

#67

mastersworddude said:

@DarkKirby
The problem with your examples is simple.
Is it reasonable to think redbull will give you actual wings or that stuff will fly out of the 3DS?
No, not anyone with common sense.

Is it reasonable to think the WiiU will allow off-TV play for every game?
Yes, unless you actual know it does not by looking it up, the ad dosen't clarify you can't.
It's not common sense for some without knowing about it to think "Well OBVIOUSLY it will only work with some games."

It's that simple, and you are sounding like a Nintendo fanboy, because you are trying to bring up an unreasonable point rather than just using common sense.

Zombie_Barioth

#68

Zombie_Barioth said:

I can see how someone could see this as misleading, but being only one complain out of potentially thousands it seems a bit nit-picky to me. Its reasonable to think all games can be played on the gamepad but its unreasonable to think any games that involve interaction between both screens will be 100% completely playable without the TV.

Even then with most people having internet access in some way, shape, or form anyone would at least look into how this stuff works before plunking down $300+ for a Wii U. Very few average consumers are going to consider that kind of money a spur of the moment purchase unless they are already looking for one.

theblackdragonAdmin

#69

theblackdragon said:

Yes, most people will do their research before plunking down hundreds of dollars on a brand new console. That doesn't make this commercial OK, though. They'll just change it up and put it back on the air eventually now that they've learned their lesson, no big deal.

Ren

#70

Ren said:

weird. Because commercial advertising is where we all turn for the most honest and good natured, fact-based representations of everything as it is in the world. I don't get what they're hoping to accomplish here.

sweetiepiejonus

#72

sweetiepiejonus said:

@Ren

I've learned that if you open a Coors on a sweltering hot day, it actually can conjure a train that leaves an ice trail. Then everyone in the street will join you in an impromptu celebration.

Oh and also geckos can speak english. And they do so in an awful cockney accent.

I actually rely on television commercials to educate my son.

WaxxyOne

#73

WaxxyOne said:

What a load of horse pucky. NONE of the features shown in that commercial can be done in every game you can play on the system, so why aren't they calling those out? Why is it obvious that not every game will let you "pick out clues and investigate your surroundings" using the gamepad but it's not obvious that some games might be made in a way that can't be taken off the TV entirely? Simply ridiculous.

cornishlee

#74

cornishlee said:

Again, this is the way the ASA works in the UK.

1) To those complaining about the complaint only coming from one person, that doesn't matter. The ASA is obliged to look into all complaints and decided whether they are reasonable or not on an individual basis: the number of complaints has nothing to do with it.
2) To those complaining that other parts of the advert are equally as unreasonable: the ASA is obliged to investigate complaints and decide if they are reasonable. If they do not receive a complaint about something then they cannot investigate it.

You may think either or both of these facts are stupid (and I certainly have my own issues with the ASA) but they explain your concerns. The law exists to protect (gullible, innocent) consumers from (manipulative, sinister) advertising which makes false claims for a product.

Sun

#75

Sun said:

@Peach64 Well said!

I was laughing about the comment saying America allows for more freedom than EU... That's crazy, it's the opposite!

And by the way why did Nintendo said on this ad that Wii Remotes are not included? Can you assume they are included with Wii U? It looks like you can.

cornishlee

#76

cornishlee said:

@Sun
I was left bewildered and incredulous by that comment. Although I rose to it enough to reply I could only assume that the poster was too young to know what they're talking about.

Ron_DelVillanoAdmin

#77

Ron_DelVillano said:

The most misleading part to me is the unexplained inclusion of a very sultry looking Brad Pitt at the beginning of this video.

Henmii

#80

Henmii said:

Nintendo only has to add the text "depending on the game". Then nobody can find it misleading!!

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