Both BMW and Halfords have fallen foul of the ad watchdog and been forced to slam the brakes on TV spots after being found guilty of encouraging dangerous and irresponsible driving in wintry conditions.
The TV ad for BMW promoted its xDrive all-wheel drive system. The ad began showing cars driving in different conditions including through snow and rain. It then cut into scenes of children playing in the mud and snow. A brief shot was shown of a car appearing to skid on a dirt trail.
The voice-over stated: “Remember when everything you did was for the sheer pleasure of doing it? BMW xDrive. Intelligent all-wheel drive. Available across the range.” On screen text stated “Get out there”.
But one viewer took umbrage, and rifled off a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority claiming that the ad condoned dangerous driving. In response, BMW denied any issue, insisting that it was simply showing how the xDrive could handle adverse conditions.
But the ASA was having none of it. In its ruling, the watchdog said: “Because the demonstration of the capability of the xDrive system condoned faster, dangerous and irresponsible driving, and was presented in the context of excitement, we concluded that the ad breached the code.”
Meanwhile a TV ad for Halfords promoting its battery fitting service featured a sped-up view from a vehicle’s windscreen of a snow-covered road which suggested the vehicle was being driven at high speed around several curves and bends in the road, accompanied with engine sounds.
On-screen text stated: “Ready for quick getaways. We fit batteries from £15. Ready for anything. Halfords for life’s journeys”.
Following complaints from two viewers that the ad encouraged unsafe driving practices in snowy conditions, the ASA took a dim view.
In its ruling it stated: “The vehicle was shown on what appeared to be public roads and driving along several bends and curves on the roads at high speed. Because the view of the road was only from the vehicle’s windscreen, which at times included blind bends, we considered that heightened the perception of danger. We also noted that engine sounds along with drum beats were heard throughout the ad which reinforced the impression that the vehicle was being driven at high speed.”
It also took issue with the phrase “ready for quick getaways”, which it considered implied that speed was essential, even in the weather conditions depicted in the ad.
Banning the ad from being shown again in this form, it warned Halfords to ensure that future ads did not portray speed or driving behaviour in a way that might encourage irresponsible driving.
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