“Irresponsible” car ads banned for encouraging dangerous driving, rules ASA

The advertising watchdog has upheld complaints that Ford, Nissan and Fiat Chrysler advertising “encouraged” and “condoned” dangerous driving.

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Following multiple complaints about car advertising shown on YouTube, on TV and in cinemas, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that adverts for the Nissan Micra, Ford Mustang and four Fiat cars breached rules that prohibit encouraging “unsafe or irresponsible driving”.

The ASA ruled that the Ford ad, which was shown in cinemas and on YouTube, “depicted people in distressful circumstances, which led them to feel anger over their particular ordeal” before the same characters were shown “releasing their anger whilst driving a Mustang”. The ad used the words of the Dylan Thomas poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, followed by the imprecation: “Don’t Go Quietly”. The ASA concluded that this characterised driving as “a way of releasing anger, which put the driver, other motorists and pedestrians at risk.”

The Fiat Chrysler ad, which was shown on YouTube, depicted four of the company’s cars apparently racing on a track that emulated Hot Wheels toys. The ASA said that “speed was the main message of the ad, and that it portrayed the cars racing”.

The Nissan ad showed a Nissan Micra driving towards an airport in a rushed manner, then stopping abruptly to avoid an accident using automatic braking. The ASA ruled that the ad gave the impression “that the brake technology was capable of preventing a collision caused by fast, irresponsible driving”.

Last month, the government reported that 1,793 people were killed and 24,831 people were seriously injured in road traffic accidents in 2017. The Department of Transport put the cost to the economy of preventable road accidents at £35bn per year.

Earlier this year, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents found that “inappropriate speed” contributes to 24 per cent of all fatal collisions, and noted that “most collisions involved loss of control of the vehicle, usually on a bend”.

Will Dunn edits the New Statesman's regular policy supplement, Spotlight.