Xbox 360 ads banned from UK over misleading movie services

I’ve never used the Xbox 360 to rent movies, mainly because I’m not buying pretend money to then spend on borrowing a film. Of course, if you’re one of the many UK folks who have been watching recent TV commercials for the 360’s download services, you might not have known that, because Microsoft didn’t tell you.

The Advertising Standards Authority has decided to pull a recent advert for the 360 since it failed to clarify that you only rent movies from the 360 Marketplace and can’t buy them. While Microsoft argues that it shouldn’t have to tell people an important detail like that, the ASA disagrees. The advert’s small print tells viewers that they need a hard drive to take advantage of movie downloads, but fails to note that such downloads expire after 14 days, or within 24 hours of use. 

“Because the ad focused on the Xbox 360 download function and new users could be influenced to purchase on the basis of being able to download and keep movies, we considered that the time limitation to play downloaded movies and the fact that they were being rented rather than bought were significant conditions that should have been clarified in the ad,” explains the ASA. 

The ASA tends to overreact and has pulled a number of commercials due to kneejerk complaints from busybodies, but this time I am inclined to agree with the judgement.  The very fact that Microsoft wanted to dodge the issue in the first place should be a big indication that it was probably worth bringing up.

Jim Sterling