Gateshead-based Ling’s Cars, run by the controversial Ling Valentine, has been battered by the ad watchdog once again after running a Facebook post that “trivialised” the Black Lives Matter movement and “objectified and fetished black men” in an effort to promote an Audi deal.
The post stated: “Black. In light of recent events, I’m resurrecting my Audi deal. Black Cars Matter, I asked Holly for a headline for this A4 and she said: ‘Once you go black, you never go back!'”
The ad then featured an image of a black raised hand with a wristband displaying the Audi logo alongside an image of a black Audi. Text stated “Audi A4 Black Power Edition” alongside “Manual gearbox (big gearknob”.
Three complainants, who believed the images were insensitive and offensive, challenged the Advertising Standards Authority whether the ad was likely to cause serious offence and was socially irresponsible.
In response, Ling’s cars dismissed the complaints, saying the phrase was a pun on the launch of the Audi Black Edition, similar to the one pictured, and insisted that the phrase “Once you go black, you never go back” was well-known and inoffensive to black people.
It added that the image of the raised fist arguing was positive and not seen as offensive in other contexts, such as the Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton raised his fist.
However, the ASA was unimpressed with these arguments. Its ruling stated: “By using that slogan and iconography simply to draw attention to an ad for a car had the effect of trivialising the serious issues raised by those movements.
“The claim, ‘Once you go black, you never go back!’, in addition to the claim ‘big gearknob’, we also considered was likely to be seen as objectifying and fetishising black men.”
The watchdog ruled the claims “were likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race”, and therefore the ad was “socially irresponsible” and breached the codes on social responsibility as well as harm and offence.
The ASA ordered that the ad must not appear again that form and told Ling’s Cars to remove it immediately.
However, it seems that is easier said than done when it comes to Valentine; the ad is still on the firm’s Facebook page in a post in which she states: “The Advertising Standards Authority have officially published their ruling against me today. I need to sit on their naughty step for saying ‘big gearknob’. I blame Holly.”
Valentine, who famously told Duncan Bannatyne to “stuff” his proposed £25,000 Dragon’s Den investment, also came a cropper in 2018 over a Facebook ad which urged customers to lease a Fiat Spider by proclaiming “who needs a BMW bum boy car?”.
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