ASA put the brakes on BMW TV ad over 'dangerous driving'

A TV spot for BMW has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the watchdog ruled that it promoted dangerous driving.

The ad, broadcast last November, promoted the car brand’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The spot, which was produced by FCB Inferno, showed cars driving through snow and rain, and skidding on a dirt trail, before a voiceover addressed viewers saying: ‘Remember when everything you did was for the sheer pleasure of doing it?’ While Song 2 by Blur played, on-screen text stating ‘Get out there’ closed the spot.

The ASA investigated the ad after a complainant suggested the spot condoned dangerous driving. BMW argued that, since the ad mostly featured off-road driving scenes filmed on private tracks, and that since the cars in the ad were driven safely and at speeds appropriate for the conditions depicted, the spot did not condone irresponsible driving.

BMW also noted that no pedestrians or other road users were shown during the scenes in question. It argued that the scenes of skidding across a dirt track had been added to demonstrate the capabilities of the xDrive system, a feature which is supposed to improve the grip and stability of a vehicle in tough conditions.

However, the ASA has told BMW that the ad “must not appear again in its current form” and to make sure that future ads not “condone dangerous or irresponsible driving”. The watchdog took issue with the depiction of fast in touch conditions, noting that while “some of the scenes took place off public roads, but considered that the scenes were not significantly different to environments that viewers might encounter.”

Clearcast said that it considered the ad to be responsible, given that the driver of the car was always shown to be in control of the vehicle. It said that the ad had been revised three times to slow down the speeds depicted, before final approval.