Ad for Apple's Siri gets poison oak wrong, report says

According to a report, the ad showed up in a July issue of The Economist, and displayed Siri pointing to poison ivy and not poison oak in the image.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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The correct Siri response to poison oak.
The correct Siri response to poison oak. Screenshot by Roger Cheng/CNET

Apple's Siri has been known to get some queries wrong. But it might have flubbed an advertising opportunity as well.

In a July issue of The Economist, Apple reportedly took out an ad for Siri. In it, users are shown a forest behind a hand holding the iPhone, and a question at the top, saying, "What does poison oak look like?" On the iPhone, Siri provides an answer, but appears to display poison ivy and not poison oak.

According to the Associated Press, which was first to report on the news, Lena Struwe, an associate professor of botany at Rutgers University, caught the gaffe, and after sharing it with fellow botanists, found that the image was actually poison ivy.

Images of the ad have been posted on Flickr and several other sites across the Web. However, CNET has not been able to independently confirm that the ad does, in fact, come from Apple. CNET has contacted Apple for clarification, and will update this story when we have more information.

To determine if the issue was a marketing error or part of Siri, CNET queried the virtual personal assistant with the same question posed in the ad. Siri quickly responded with a listing from Wolfram Alpha describing poison oak and displaying the proper image. The ad also shows Siri pointing to a Wolfram Alpha result.

Siri has found her way to a host of Apple commercials and ads, and has typically been correct in those spots. However, last month, Fortune reported that in real life, Siri is wrong 38 percent of the time she's queried.

Siri has also been known to offer up some embarrassing answers from time to time. Back in May, when asked what "the best smartphone ever" was, she responded with Nokia's Lumia 900.