A video campaign promoting Volvo's Lifepaint product – a hi-vis spray paint designed to help cyclists stand out in dark conditions – has been canned by the Advertising Standards Authority almost two years after its initial launch.
The spot, which picked up a Cannes Lions Grand Prix in 2015, courted a complaint after a viewer spotted the ad on both YouTube and Volvo's own website last December.
The video in question demonstrated the reflective properties of Lifepaint on fabric, and featured imagery of bicycle frames that have been sprayed with a different reflective spray from LifePaint’s manufacturer, Albedo 100 – but the watchdog said the use of the two different paint types had not been made clear.
The two-and-a-half minute campaign depicted several cyclists in a city environment applying LifePaint to their bikes and safety gear before riding around in the dark to showcase the glow-in-the-dark effect of the paint. The version on Volvo's website was accompanied by text which read: 'In the making of this film we used both reflective paint products available from Albedo 100'.
The complainant said they didn't believe that the product could produce the effects shown in the film, and challenged whether the ad was misleading. The ASA agreed and spiked the spot on the basis that is had exaggerated the effects of LifePaint.
Volvo acknowledged that LifePaint was designed primarily for textiles, and that Albedo100 had also produced an oil-based spray designed for metal surfaces, which was the spray that had been used on the bicycle frames in the video.
The brand argued that LifePaint could also be used to produce the same effect shown in the video on bicycle frames, but that this effect would not last for long, but the ASA said the average consumer would expect LifePaint to be able to produce a similar effect to that seen in the ads.
Although one version of the ad contained a disclaimer about the use of two reflective paint products, it did not make clear that LifePaint was only used on the textile surfaces, said the regulator. On the YouTube iteration of the spot, the ASA said it considered that the video itself was "misleading" because it considered the prominence it gave to bicycle frames being sprayed with and covered in reflective paint suggested the product would work equally on both surface types.
A spokesperson from Grey London, which created the work for Volvo said it accepted the ad ban.
"The ASA has ruled that the disclaimer was not sufficiently prominent to adequately disclose the use of Albedo 100’s other reflective spray, and that the ad must not appear again in its current form," the creative shop added. "While all further, post-launch comms around LifePaint haven’t featured the offending scenes, we have accepted the ASA's decision and apologise for any confusion caused."