The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has given Jaguar a slap on the wrists, banning a piece of branded content printed in the Guardian for "encouraging unsafe driving".
Two readers complained about the advertorial which was aimed at business executives and read: 'Drive time is no longer downtime with Wi-Fi connectivity, smartphone integrated apps and voice-controlled infotainment systems. In car technology is changing the commute.'
'For busy executives, the car is increasingly becoming an extension of the workplace," continued the piece. 'The combination of smart technology built in to the car, and vehicle optimised smartphone apps, can help… organise your next meeting and stay in touch with colleagues and family while on the move.'
The complainants challenged whether the campaign for the brand's XE model would lead drivers to carry out tasks that were likely to distract their attention from the road, and the ASA upheld the ruling.
Jaguar argued that the article was written in conjunction with the Guardian, and hadn't been repeated or further distributed since 24 September 2016, adding that it did not believe the wording to encourage such behaviour. The company said it had specifically stated that any of the described functions of the car should be used "without compromising safety" and maintained that the branded content was generally aimed at making "productive use" of time in the car by using the features described via hands-free communication in-line with the law.
The Guardian said it had received one complaint about the piece, which it has responded to, also adding that there was an emphasis on safety and that it was "made clear that voice control let drivers operate the car’s features while keeping their eyes on the road."
While the watchdog took this into consideration, it noted that the Highway Code stated the use of hands-free equipment was likely to distract drivers' attention and that there was a danger that in-vehicle multi-media systems could have the same effect.
"The advertorial featured the headline claim 'Drive time is no longer downtime'. We considered readers would interpret this to mean that drivers could now perform various other tasks whilst driving," said the ASA.
"While we understood that the work related activities and communicating with family could be carried out in the car via hands-free technology, we considered that they were likely to distract a driver’s attention from the road and therefore preventing them from having full control of the vehicle," the regulator finished, warning Jaguar that the ad mustn't appear again in its current form and to prevent future campaigns from encouraging the driver to partake in tasks that were likely to distract from the road.
Jaguar had an ad on its YouTube channel banned in 2014 after it was found to encourage unsafe driving. 'The Art of Villainy' spot, part of the firm's wider 'Good to be Bad' campaign, starred Tom Hiddleston driving a Jaguar F-Type in an underground car park and on a public road.