Most countries have numerous regulations that prevent companies from falsely advertising their products, but those companies also have a bunch of tricks that help them get around these regulations. Easily the most common of these is the use of superlatives such as “best” and “first-class” to describe products, which are technically not false advertising even if the product is a piece of crap because they’re subjective descriptions. Unfortunately for Xiaomi, however, China recently passed a new advertising law that prevents the use of such superlatives, which Xiaomi has apparently violated with the use of the word “best” to describe one of its smartphones.
Are Xiaomi phones the best? The company apparently said so, and that’s gotten it into hot water, according to a report from China’s Securities Daily. A leaked Beijing Ministry of Industry and Commerce document (pictured below) says that the Ministry will investigate claims that Xiaomi used the term “best” on its website to describe a product, in violation of China’s new ad law. The new ad law, which went into effect on September 1, sets stricter boundaries for all kinds of advertising, including online ads. Among other things, it prohibits the use of superlatives like “best” in advertisements, with penalties starting at RMB 200,000 (US$31,000) for those found to be in violation. When contacted by Tech in Asia, Xiaomi declined to comment for this story. Beijing commerce officials didn’t discover Xiaomi’s alleged use of the word “best” on their own; instead it was reported to them by Tan Wensheng, the CEO of a rival smartphone company called Cong (“Scallion Smartphones” in Chinese). Tan has been open about his reporting of Xiaomi, posting about it on his Weibo (Cong’s official Weibo account has mentioned the report, too). He told Securities Daily that his concern is that with Xiaomi’s website using terms like “first-class,” “the king of screens,” etc., buyers could be misled.