The ad in question, which seems to have been aimed at promoting the company's latest midrange offerings in the form of the Nova 3 and 3i among Arabic-speaking audiences, came under scrutiny after one of the models involved in its making shared some behind-the-scenes photos.
The actress shown in the ad, Sarah Elshamy, posted photos of the ad's shooting set.
One of the most important aspects of any smartphone these days is the camera quality, and some companies go out of their way to try and sell how great their offering is. Huawei, who has partnered with famed camera lens maker Leica for its premium models, naturally wants to give buyers of its mid-range smartphones the same assurance. Just this past week, Samsung Brazil was caught trying to pass stock photos off as photos taken with the Galaxy A8. As it turns out, though, the photos were taken on a DSLR camera-the type of dedicated (and not-at-all-tied-to-a-smartphone) camera used by professional photographers. He snaps the pic before she has a chance, and then the ad shows a still shot of the couple all dolled up and looking fantastic. Huawei reacted to the controversy and said that the ad never outright claims that the picture was shot on Nova 3 smartphone.
Reddit user AbdullahSab3 took to Reddit to accuse the company of misleading marketing, saying: "Don't believe everything you see". Huawei later apologized for not being clear in the captions that the photo was taken with a DSLR during a photo shoot for the Huawei P9.
Consumers have discovered similar stunts in previous Huawei marketing and advertising materials.
Worse yet, Huawei was caught doing nearly exactly this previously: it posted an image implied to be a photo taken with its P9 smartphone to Google+, but the EXIF data (metadata included in image files with information on how and when the photo was taken) revealed it was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a professional DSLR camera that costs thousands of dollars.
In 2016, Huawei was caught out for posting an image on Google+ which claimed to highlight the power of its new P9 camera - saved metadata soon revealed the photo was captured on a US$4,500 Canon camera.