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By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

August 9, 2016 | 3 min read

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has spiked an "irresponsible" Audi ad for linking speed with excitement.

Following a complaint from a member of the public, the watchdog has given the Volkswagen-owned automaker a slap on the wrist for its ‘The Eye’ spot which was created by BBH London.

The ad (above) for the brand’s R8 model depicted the sound of a car accelerating through its gears while the passing lights of a road were shown in the reflection of an eye.

The pupil of the eye was shown contracting and dilating before a scene was shown of the car making its way through a tunnel in slow motion. A shorter clip of the eye returned followed by text reading: 'More focus, more drive. The all new Audi R8 V10 plus with carbon ceramic brakes'. The final shot was of the car braking to a halt on what appeared to be a race track.

The complainant challenged whether the ad had recklessly linked the fast pace of the car to a positive emotional response – a claim the ASA upheld.

Volkswagen group said the central emphasis of the ad was around how the model was its "most focused drive yet," and that in the shots which focused on the eye, it was possible to gain an impression of the speed of the car by looking at the reflection of the tunnel lights as they passed.

"Had the car been travelling at speed, the lights would be passing at a great speed or would be a blur, but in the ad were shown moving slowly past," contended the brand, adding that the ad was not intended to portray "excitement" but that the only possible perception of excitement would be through the driver's pupil being shown to dilate; something that could be caused through a number of factors including exposure to light and intense concentration.

The ASA, however, disagreed on the basis that viewers would interpret the changes in pupil size as an "emotional reponse" to the movement of the car as represented by the sounds that were audible during the eye sequence.

"We considered that the physiological change it represented was a real one and that it was not sufficiently fantastical or unrealistic as to diminish the link between emotional response and the sounds of the car," it said warning Audi that the ad must not appear again in its current form.

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