ASA Adjudication on General Motors UK Ltd
General Motors UK Ltd t/a
5 September 2012
Number of complaints:
Mccann Erickson Communications House Ltd
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad for a Vauxhall Corsa featured various vehicles in a city setting that were being driven through empty streets. The passengers in each of the cars were shown holding a flare out of the car window to create a smoke trail. The colour of each smoke trail corresponded with the colour of the respective car and was shown making various patterns throughout the ad. The voice-over stated, "Vauxhall Corsa. Put the fun back in to driving."
Seven complainants challenged whether:
1. the ad, in particular the claim "Put the fun back in to driving", encouraged dangerous and irresponsible driving; and
2. the ad was harmful, because they believed the drivers were young adults engaging in dangerous behaviour which could encourage emulation.
1. General Motors UK Ltd (General Motors UK) said they had used the claim "Put the fun back in to driving" for ten years without issue and struggled to understand how it could be seen to encourage dangerous and/or irresponsible driving. They said the claim was made in relation to the Vauxhall Corsa, which was a fun car, and that the ad simply suggested that the vehicle put fun back into driving.
Clearcast said the claim "Put the fun back in to driving" had been used by Vauxhall Corsa for many years without issue and did not believe that it encouraged dangerous or irresponsible driving. They said it communicated to viewers that the car would be pleasurable and joyful and that it would be inaccurate to suggest that fun was synonymous with danger or speed.
2. They said the ad was not intended to represent driving in the "real world" and this was indicated by the deserted streets and that the advertised cars were the only ones on the road. They compared their ad to two other recent TV ads that featured paint. They believed, while these other ads could be seen to be extreme and anti-social, their ad was acceptable.
Clearcast said, because the roads were clear of cars and pedestrians and it was obvious they were not UK roads, it was clear that the ad was not set in real driving conditions. They said the colourful flares were a creative device used to highlight the colours the car was available in and also to fit into the fantasy setting of the ad to create a visual experience for the viewer. They did not believe the ad encouraged emulation.
1. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged that passengers holding flares out of car windows could be seen as irresponsible behaviour. However, throughout the ad, various models of the car were shown in different colours and the smoke trails, created by the flares, corresponded to those colours. In that context, we considered most viewers would understand the claim "Put the fun back in to driving" to relate to the colours the car was available in, rather than the manner in which the motorists were driving, or the specific action of holding a flare out of a car window. We therefore concluded that the claim "Put the fun back in to driving" was unlikely to be interpreted as encouraging dangerous and irresponsible driving.
On this point we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 20.1 (Motoring).
2. Not upheld
We acknowledged that passengers holding flares out of car windows could be seen as irresponsible behaviour. However, we considered that most viewers would interpret this action in the context of it creating the coloured smoke that emphasised the colours the car was available in, rather than an isolated action to be emulated in real life situations. We therefore concluded that the ad was not harmful.
On this point we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 4.4 (Harm and offence) and 20.1 (Motoring) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.