Fact Check


Published Mar 19, 2003

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Photo Gallery (Nokia)

Claim:   Commercial for a Nokia brand mobile phone shows a cat caught on a rotating ceiling fan.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2003]

Swingin' cat

Origins:   The image shown above is a still frame from a video clip of a purported commercial for a Nokia brand mobile phone with video capture capability. The video shows a couple of young men chortling as their cat catches its paw on the trailing cord of a rotating ceiling fan, gets spun around several times, and is finally thrown against a wall with an audible thump. As the two men rush to the aid of the hapless feline, a third person in the foreground is shown to have captured the whole event using the video capabilities of his Nokia mobile phone; over a fadeout of the Nokia logo a voice exclaims, "It's not a home video, okay; it's a phone video!"

Given the western world's sensitivity to the treatment of animals (particularly common pet species such as cats and dogs), not many companies would try to sell their product using such an ad unless they were deliberately engaged in the gambit of generating attention through negative publicity. The clip advertised a new model of Nokia phone that had just been released (March 2003) in Australia, but Nokia disclaimed any connection to the commercial, maintaining that it had "been proposed to Nokia by an external party" (a subcontractor of their advertising agency), that it had been "categorically rejected" by Nokia, and that it was "not an official Nokia advertisement":

Nokia is aware of the video material portraying a cat and a Nokia mobile phone, which is being distributed on the Internet. The footage has not been used in our advertising and it is not an official Nokia advertisement.

The offending footage had been proposed to Nokia by an external party but we had categorically rejected it as it neither complies with the ethical standards of the company nor reflects the policies and principles of our advertising.

While the external creators who have created the material have assured us that trick photography was used and no animal was harmed, this does not detract from the distasteful nature of the content. In any event, we deeply regret the discomfort and concern that the circulation of this material may have caused.

Following investigations on the matter, Nokia's external advertising agency has apologised for the oversight made by their subcontractors and for the embarrassment that this may have caused.

"They have also assured us that they will take all necessary action to ensure that circulation of the video material is stopped and that all further production and material created for Nokia will adhere strictly to Nokia´s ethical standards and advertising policies", said Kari Tuutti, Vice President, Communications, Nokia Mobile Phones.

Exactly how much involvement Nokia may have had with this clip is difficult to determine. Some readers have reported to us that they have indeed seen it run as a television advertisement, but we haven't been able to verify that claim. (It's possible that the clip has been aired on TV as an example of a "funny video," not as an ad paid for by Nokia.)

Additional information:

    Nokia denies ad video Unauthorized Cat Video (Nokia)

Last updated:   7 April 2004

  Sources Sources:

    Carson, Vanda   "Uproar Over Nokia Ad Video."

    news.com.au.   17 March 2003.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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