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Virgin Media's Multimillion-Dollar Usain Bolt Ad Campaign Banned

Virgin Media's Multimillion-Dollar Usain Bolt Ad Campaign Banned

Today in international tech news: Virgin Media, which paid millions of dollars for an advertising campaign with Usain Bolt, has been forced to pull the ads because, contrary to what Bolt claims, buffering still exists. Also: The European Commission and Google are reportedly making headway in antitrust talks; China is fueling Apple in Asia; Samsung uses an update to disable a function that uses Google software and more.

By David Vranicar TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
07/25/12 10:16 AM PT

A British watchdog has banned an advertising campaign by Virgin Media which used Usain Bolt because of claims Bolt makes about super-fast broadband, according to The Guardian.

The ad campaign, which cost Virgin millions of dollars, showed Bolt, a gold medal-winning Jamaican sprinter, mimicking Virgin's founder, Richard Branson, to promote the company's goal of doubling broadband Internet speeds.

A rival Internet service provider, BT, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, about Bolt saying "bye-bye buffering." BT claimed that Virgin's customers would in fact still experience buffering, thereby making the ad misleading.

Virgin replied that the ad was meant to be taken in jest -- pointing out that Bolt was wearing a space-suit helmet and fake beard -- but the ASA upheld the ban.

Progress for Google, European Commission

Google and the European Commission have reached an "understanding" in their ongoing quest to settle an antitrust investigation, according to The New York Times.

The EC is alleging that Google took advantage of its market dominance and has threatened litigation if Google does not make concessions.

Google appears to be doing just that. Google's proposals have provided a good foundation for future talks, an EC spokesperson said Wednesday. While it has not been disclosed what exactly Google has offered, the spokesperson said that the two sides have a "good level of understanding."

Google's search engine enjoys a 90 percent market share in many European markets, according to the Times. Its share in the U.S. is 70 percent.

News of the European Commission's antitrust investigation picked up in May, when the commission sent Google a letter outlining its grievances. Google has since been in negotiations, trying to find middle ground suitable for both sides.

Last week, various outlets reported that Google's Android mobile devices had been added to the antitrust investigation.

Even as the two sides make progress, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Google could face further antitrust probes by the EU.

China Fueling Apple In Asia

Apple on Tuesday announced that two-thirds of its Asia Pacific revenue was coming from China, according to TechCrunch.com.

Apple's third-quarter revenue from China was US$5.7 billion, a 48 percent increase from last year. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that despite the surge, Apple is still experiencing rapid growth. Apple's revenues in China for the year are already $12.4 billion -- compared to $13.3 billion in all of 2011.

Revenue is actually down from last quarter's "mind-boggling" performance, but Cook said that was to be expected.

Apple's iPad went on sale in China last week.

Because of Patent Dispute, Samsung Disables Function

Samsung has disabled its "advanced search" function on the international version of the Galaxy S3, according to AndroidCentral.com.

When updated software is installed, the phone does not search contact or other "on-device" material with software developed by Google. Samsung users were not notified that the update would disable that particular service, according to Android Central.

A U.S. court will rule on the dispute next month, according to the BBC, but even if it is overturned in the U.S., it would still apply to the "GT-i9300 (S3)" model sold in many places abroad.

Possible 'Cartel' Investigated by EC

As the European Commission works on a deal with Google, it announced an investigation into 13 optical disk drive makers, according to PCMag.com.

The EC did not disclose the names of the companies, but did say that the companies in question are suspected of coordinating on the supply of optical disk drives used for PCs and servers, according to PCMag.com.

This would be in violation of EU antitrust laws. If found guilty, the EC could fine the companies up to 10 percent of their annual worldwide turnover, as it did to Microsoft.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com.



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