Currys PC World has been reprimanded for a second time about broadcasting misleading adverts for 4K televisions.

The UK’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint that the electronics chain had encouraged viewers to believe they could watch ultra-high definition broadcasts of the Euro 2016 football championship.

It follows an earlier rebuke about an advert shown in 2014.

Content in 4K is still relatively uncommon, posing a challenge to stores.

The format is marketed as providing four times as much detail as 1080p high definition transmissions, because the screens have that many times more pixels.

Sky’s recent launch of its Ultra HD service last week has improved matters. But until then, BT was the only broadcaster transmitting 4K content to UK audiences and its offering was often limited to one football match a week.

Other alternatives include a limited number of shows and films on streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube.

Currys PC World – which is owned by DSG Retail – screened the most recent of the two offending adverts on 4 June, six days before the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) competition began.

The ad, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and shown during the tournament in June and July, featured a voiceover that said: “We know some people will do whatever it takes to watch the football on the right TV. Whether it’s this big screen 4K-ready Smart LG for just £549 or this new 49-inch 4K-ready Panasonic at an amazing £649. The 55-inch is just £200 more.”

The voiceover continued: “And only ’til Wednesday, buy any TV for £699 or over, and with Cash For Goals get £10 for every goal your chosen team scores. So decide on the TV, then where your loyalties lie.

The two models of TV were shown playing footage of a football match, while one displayed the text “Cash for goals“, with the O in goals replaced by a rotating football featuring the flags of countries taking part in Euro 2016.

Although the advert did not explicitly refer to Euro 2016, the advertising watchdog noted that it had contained a graphic of a rotating football made up of the flags of the various competing teams.

Part of the store’s defence was that, even though the Euro 2016 games were not broadcast in 4K, the TVs had the ability to “upscale” the footage to improve picture quality.

This involves using software to infer what each of the extra pixels should show, rather than just making each square of four pixels the same colour. The technique cannot put back the original detail because it was never included in the lower-resolution broadcast, but algorithms can try to deduce what would have been shown.

The retailer’s ad had been submitted to Clearcast – a clearance service for advertisers. Clearcast said the ad did not state that it was possible to watch Euro 2016 in 4K definition.

That firm defended its decision to approve the contents on the basis that the TVs had been described as being 4K-ready. This, it explained, implied there was no guarantee that consumers would actually be able to see content in the format.

However, the ASA rejected these responses saying it still felt consumers were likely to have believed they could watch the matches in “genuine 4K definition”.

Its verdict followed an earlier ruling against a Currys PC World ad that had said Ultra HD TVs allowed families to watch their “favourite Christmas movies in greater detail”.

The firm had again justified its description by pointing to the sets’ upscaling abilities.

But the ASA said it believed viewers had been misled to believe they would be able to see the films in “full” 4K quality and added that if the firm meant to refer to upscaling, it should be clearer about the fact.

The ad breached the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) rules under Misleading advertising 

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. The ASA told DSG Retail Ltd not to imply that particular content could be watched in 4K definition if that was not the case.

If you are still unsure how the rules fit within your marketing, we provide an Advertising review service. Contact us today to find how we can help you.

Further reading:

ASA Ruling on DSG Retail Ltd