Ford, Nissan and Abarth pulled over by ASA for promoting dangerous driving

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned TV ads for three major car manufacturers, after deciding that they each promoted risky road behavior from drivers.

The banned spots included an ad for the Nissan Micra, a Ford Mustang commercial, and a spot for high-performance brand Abarth, which is owned by Fiat Chrysler.

In the Ford spot a series of office workers are shown struggling with stress and the pressure of their everyday lives, intercut with scenes of a tangerine-coloured Mustang racing through the streets of London. The ad is accompanied with a voiceover featuring Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen reciting the famous Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, and ends on the strapline ‘Don’t go quietly’. The spot received 12 complaints alleging that the spot encouraged driving as a way of relieving anger and stress.

Ford said that the ad “for viewers to live a little more boldly and not to live a life of regret when reflecting on the passage of time.” The US carmaker said that the ad was “life affirming”. The watchdog disagreed, and said that the poem’s prominent use of the word ‘rage’, added to the spot’s scenes of frustration, meant the ad encouraged driving as method of releasing anger.

The Abarth ad showed four friends racing different models around a sunlit, fantasy city. Fiat Chrysler challenged the ruling, claiming that because the ad was produced outside the UK and uploaded on to YouTube, it did not fall within the watchdog’s remit.

It went on to state that the ad’s setting was supposed to emulate a Hot Wheels track, in line with the strapline ‘Let’s play again’, displayed as on-screen text. However the ASA noted that the ad was served as a pre-roll ad on YouTube and targeted at UK consumers.

It said that, because the ad was served in space paid for by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK, it fell within the organisation’s area of interest, and went on to state that the depiction of high speed driving meant that the ad “condoned or encouraged unsafe or irresponsible driving”. Fiat Chrysler was told “that speed must not be the focus of future ads, and to ensure they did not portray driving behaviour, including racing, that condoned or encouraged motorists to drive irresponsibly.”

The Nissan ad depicted a Micra entering an airport and avoiding a collision with a worker through the use of the car’s ‘Intelligent Emergency Braking’ system. After the car recovers from the hard stop, a voiceover states: ‘When you have the right technologies you will always find a way’.

While Nissan said that the ad demonstrated the model’s smart features, the ASA said the impression of speed from the car, and the exaggeration of the emergency brake feature “implied that the Micra’s braking system allowed consumers to drive faster and more recklessly.”

Each of the brands have been told by the ASA that their advertising must not encourage unsafe driving, by depicting driving at excessive speeds, exaggerating safety features or showing drivers as excessively angry.

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