Droid Doesn’t (always have the most helpful ads)

With so much recent attention on the now-infamous Israeli advertising debacle, I would like to draw your attention to another campaign, presumably not as offensive but no less insidious.

Yes, I’m talking about the barrage of Verizon/Droid ads that have hit the airwaves in recent weeks and months. I’m not going to discuss the sillier iterations – like the woman who kills three robots in under sixty seconds, or the movie trailer – in any detail. Those are just advertisements. Instead, I’d like to briefly call attention to two that make pseudo-factual claims regarding Verizon’s phone and service offerings.

The first, for Droid Razr, is out to prove ‘thin is no longer frail’. You don’t  really need to watch the ad, but in case you’re interested, here it is:

Those of you who did watch may have noted its claim that the phone is made with ‘diamond-cut spun aluminum’. Diamonds!

This certainly sounds impressive, aesthetically pleasing, and perhaps even scientifically significant. But what does the fact that the Razr’s spun aluminum was cut with diamonds actually tell us about the phone’s physical makeup? To give you an idea of how helpful the information is, here’s a list of things that – like spun aluminum – can also be cut by diamonds:

  1. Pretty much anything

So let’s try it from the other direction: what exactly does ‘diamond-cut’ rule out? Well, here’s the list of things the google tells me cannot be cut by diamonds*:

  1. Ultrahard Fullerite (synthetic)
  2. Aggregated diamond nanorods (synthetic)
  3. Wurtzide boron nitride (formed during high-temperature and -pressure volcanic eruptions)
  4. Lonsdaleite (formed when meteorites containing graphite hit earth)

In summary, the ad informs viewers that the Droid Razr is not made of any of the above materials. I hope no one’s too disappointed. This information isn’t even surprising, given that we already knew the phone is made from spun aluminum. What once sounded moderately informative turned out to be something short of that. This is certainly forgivable; we are, after all, talking about advertising.

But let’s not let Verizon off the hook before we have a chance to check out the next ad:

Quick summary: the ad shows a group of people who escaped a sinking ship only to end up floating offshore. They try to call in a rescue, but the only provider with any service is, of course, Verizon. This ad is questionable for many reasons, but I would like to draw your attention to just one of them. Take a look at this screenshot I grabbed from the closing moments of the ad:

You’ve seen it before: There’s a Map For That, etc. It’s Verizon’s coverage map, and it shows only a few isolated pockets of the country as lacking service.

Just one problem: the coverage depicted doesn’t match up with the content of the ad. Here’s a second map, on which I have marked a representative sample of locations at which the ad’s footage suggests it may have been shot:

You’ll notice not one of them gets any coverage.

You might have noticed that when I linked to this ad, it ran a little choppy and had a Daily Show banner across the top. That’s because Verizon recently pulled the clip from Youtube, so I could only find it still playing from an existing ad buy online. I’m going to assume someone at Verizon noticed the gross inaccuracy (ew) and decided to take a stand for truth in advertising.

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*This is why we fact check

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