Currys/PC World censured over 4K claim

DSG Retail, trading as Currys/PC World, has been found in breach of three advertising rules in relation to a television ad which claimed that purchasers of LG TVs would be able to watch their favourite Christmas movies in greater detail.

The ad stated that “At Currys PC World, we’ll help you get it right this Christmas. These smart LG TVs start at £849, and because they’re 4K Ultra HD, you can watch your favourite Christmas movies in greater detail.”

Three viewers, who understood that 4K content was very limited and was unlikely to include any popular Christmas films, challenged whether the claim “… you can watch your favourite Christmas movies in greater detail” was misleading.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in its ruling on the case, reported that DSG Retail trading as Currys/PC World said the ad did not state that Christmas films or other content could be watched in 4K and believed consumers would understand that, because the advertised televisions were 4K Ultra HD, Christmas movies could be watched in greater detail on them. “They considered that this claim was correct as the LG TVs featured in the ad had automatic upscaling capability, which would naturally improve non-4K content to a higher resolution. They considered, on that basis, that anything watched on the advertised TVs, whether 4K or not, would show an improvement in detail and picture quality,” reported the ASA.

“They stated that, although it was used as an industry term, there appeared to be no fixed broadcast standards for 4K, with all leading manufacturers of 4K Ultra HD TVs seemingly delivering picture quality to 3840X2160p. They considered that any films broadcast over the Christmas period were likely to have been shown in either Full High Definition (FHD) or High Definition (HD) quality, a resolution of 1920X1080p. They stated that the LG TVs featured in the ad would automatically upscale those images to achieve an Ultra HD picture near to 4K quality. Therefore, when watching anything on the LG 4K Ultra HD TVs, the picture detail would show an increased resolution compared to a standard FHD or HD LED TV by LG or any other leading TV manufacturer. They added that native 4K content would display four times the resolution of FHD and maintained that the upscaled images on the advertised TVs would show a near same performance. They stated that anything watched on the TVs would therefore present a significant improvement in picture detail and a better viewing experience compared to watching the same content on FHD/HD LED TVs,” said the ASA.

“They added that LG had advised Currys PC World that the upscaling on the LG 4K Ultra HD TVs worked by first analysing the source data and then refining the 2K (HD) content to the optimal. After the refining was done, the image would be upscaled to a 4K image. A specialised graphics chip in the TVs then super-enhanced the resolution further to increase sharpness and colour accuracy twofold. Finally, the LG True 4K Engine, which was installed in those TVs and which upscaled and enhanced the content of Standard or HD images to near 4K quality, estimated the motion of the frame to create smooth 4K motions,” it advised.

The ASA noted that ad clearance service Clearcast stated that it had not asked the advertisers to confirm whether specific films were available as 4K ready, as the ad did not refer to any particular films, and did not state that viewers could watch specific popular Christmas 4K ready films on the advertised TVs. “They added that, based on the online information about the LG 4K TVs, they offered a new standard of high definition on any content that was watched on them. They considered that, over the Christmas period, many people would be watching their favourite films on television, DVD or Blu-Ray and the advertised TVs were capable of upscaling the detail, no matter what content viewers watched,” it said.

In upholding the claim, the ASA said that it understood that 4K resolution, otherwise known as ultra-high definition television, UHD or ultra HD, provided increased pixel resolution and an improved quality of image. “We also understood, however, that there was only a very limited amount of ‘native 4K’ content available and that it was currently only available in the UK through some online on demand providers. We noted that the native 4K content was likely to include newer programmes, rather than classic Christmas films,” it added.

“We considered that some viewers would have a good and technical understanding of the new 4K technology and how it improved image quality. Although we acknowledged that some viewers would not be as familiar with the technology, we considered those viewers would understand from the ad that the advertised 4K TVs would provide ‘greater detail’, which would amount to a marked improvement in the image quality, not just in relation to Christmas films, but to all viewed content.”

The ASA acknowledged that the advertisers maintained that films broadcast in FHD or HD would automatically upscale those images to achieve a picture near to 4K quality and would show an increased resolution compared to a standard FHD or HD TV. However, we had not seen evidence showing how ‘near to’ 4K quality that increase resolution was, or that any increase in quality was therefore comparable with, and similar to, genuine 4K quality.

“We also considered viewers would understand that the improved quality was achieved because the televisions were ‘4k Ultra HD’, that this particular technology was therefore used to achieve the image quality and that the image quality achieved was subsequently of full and genuine 4K quality,” it added.

“Because there was such limited native 4k content available in the UK, we understood that any improvement in quality in films or programmes watched over the Christmas period was unlikely to be achieved by the use of 4K technology specifically. Moreover, because we had not seen sufficient evidence showing that any increased image quality experienced by using the advertised televisions was at the same standard as 4K and because we considered the ad implied that the TVs would provide images of genuine 4K quality through use of that technology, which was not the case, we concluded the ad was likely to mislead,” said the ASA, finding that the ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 3.12 (Exaggeration).

“The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told the advertisers not to imply that there was an improvement in the quality of a product unless they held supporting evidence, and to ensure that their advertising clearly communicated the standard of quality that would be achieved,” concluded the ASA.

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