The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority reported the complaint, in which a sharp-eyed viewer said he believed the game footage was taken from the Xbox 360 version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 despite the ad being for the Nintendo Wii edition of the game, creating a “misleading impression” of the graphics quality on the Wii.
Electronic Arts confirmed with the ASA that the game footage shown in the ad was actually from the 360, but defended the move by saying they were “demonstrating game action that was possible on all formats and did not show any gameplay that was impossible on a Wii.” Footage taken from the Wii release of the game was not of “broadcast quality,” the company said, adding that the agency behind the ad decided it was better to use the higher-quality Xbox 360 video than to artificially boost the resolution of the Wii footage.
“[EA] believed the use of the Wiimote throughout, the subsequent Nintendo branding and the format advice at the end of the ad was sufficient to allow viewers to ascertain that the gameplay was representative of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 and not specific to any gaming platform,” the ASA noted on its website. “They added that they had never intended to imply that the graphics used were taken from the Wii version.”
Throughout the ad, Woods is shown using a Wiimote controller, and while a message at the end of the advertisement reads, “Out 29th August… Available on all formats,” a Wii logo is also displayed underneath that message.
The ASA upheld the complaint, noting that each time Woods used the Wiimote in the ad, the in-game character displayed behind him mirrored his actions, implying that Woods was playing the game on a Nintendo console. The agency acknowledged the presence of the “Available on all formats” message at the end of the ad, but also pointed out that the only console-specific branding shown was the Wii logo.
“We considered that viewers would infer from the ad that Tiger Woods was playing the game on a Wii console and the graphics shown behind him were representative of the actual game he was playing,” the Authority wrote. “We also considered that the Wii logo at the end of the ad reinforced that impression. Because viewers would not be able to achieve the graphical quality shown in the ad on a Wii console, we concluded that the ad was misleading.”
No great loss for EA, though. The punishment for its transgression? The advertisement can’t be run again in its current form, not exactly 40 lashes for a game that was released this past summer. The full complaint and response can be read here.