ASA Adjudication on Citroen UK Ltd
Citroen UK Ltd
221 Bath Road
27 April 2011
Number of complaints:
Euro RSCG London Ltd
A TV ad, for Citroën, featured a cyclist pulling up behind a Citroën C4 at a set of traffic lights on a busy urban street. Other cyclists joined him until there was a large crowd of cyclists pursuing the C4. At the next junction, the C4 pulled away and lost the cyclists, who appeared disappointed until one of them spotted a different C4 travelling in the opposite direction. The cyclists turned at the junction and followed the other C4. A voice-over stated "The new Citroën C4 eHDi engine uses power only when you're moving, meaning less CO2 and lower fuel costs. It's what we call positive power." An end frame featured the Citroën logo.
A viewer, who noted that none of the cyclists featured in the ad were wearing cycling helmets, challenged whether the ad was appropriate to be broadcast at times when children were likely to be watching, because it could condone and encourage behaviour prejudicial to their health and safety.
Citroën UK Ltd (Citroën) pointed out that wearing a cycling helmet was not a legal requirement in the UK, although they accepted that it was good practice to wear a helmet whilst cycling. They said they had featured cyclists in the ad to demonstrate the low CO2 emissions and 'stop-start technology' on the new C4, rather than focusing on cycling. They explained that the C4's engine stopped when the vehicle came to a halt at traffic lights, which was less polluting and more comfortable for cyclists. They believed the cyclists were not shown to be riding in a dangerous manner and that there were no other vehicles in the road in the immediate vicinity of the cyclists. They pointed out that children were not featured in the ad. They said that given the context, they did not believe the ad condoned or encouraged poor cycling practices on the part of children or anyone else.
Citroën said they had no future plans to broadcast the ad in the UK.
Clearcast said they always advised that children should wear cycling helmets in ads but they did not require adults to wear helmets because it was not a legal requirement. They said they did not normally place a scheduling restriction on ads featuring adult cyclists. They believed the ad did not require an 'ex kids' restriction, meaning the ad could not be shown around children's programming. They said the issue of whether or not to apply a timing restriction was never raised or discussed.
The ASA considered that adults and older children would understand that the scenario depicted in the ad was fantastical and set apart from reality, because of the sheer number of cyclists involved, the lack of cars in their immediate vicinity and the fact that they were cycling in unison and chasing the C4. We therefore concluded that the ad did not condone behaviour prejudicial to the health and safety of adults and older children and was unlikely to cause harm to them.
However, we considered that younger children might not appreciate the fantastical nature of the ad and might consider that the ad represented a real-life scenario. We were therefore concerned that the ad might encourage younger children to emulate a behaviour prejudicial to their health and safety, and therefore concluded that the ad should have been given an 'ex kids' scheduling restriction to ensure that it was not broadcast at times when younger children were likely to be watching.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 5.2 (Children) and 32.3 (Scheduling).
We also investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1 and 4.4 (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
The ad must not be broadcast again without the appropriate scheduling restriction.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)