Anyone with a high-performance vehicle is tempted to put the pedal to the medal on occasion. Still, the British-based Advertising Standards Authority wants to ensure that car commercials being aired won't encourage such behavior.
That's why the ASA decided to ban advertising by Ford and two other automakers that include content that might spark that urge to floor it. In particular, the decision concerned two Ford Mustang ads featured in movie theaters and on YouTube that sparked viewer complaints that the images depicted an alarming connection between anger and speed.
According to BBC, one commercial video featured instances of office stress from coffee spilling to a photocopier malfunctioning complete with an excerpt from a Dylan Thomas poem enticing audiences to "rage against the dying of the light." While some complaints may have automatically connected the dots to imagine a road rage scenario, Ford responded that the ads were to demonstrate that the Mustang was "the antidote to a dull life." The company added that using the word "rage" was not supposed to be antagonistic at all, but more to the heighten the vibrancy of driving the vehicle.
That defense didn't go over well with the ASA, which concluded that actors portraying the drivers in the ad were using the Mustang as an outlet for their frustrations. The Thomas quote further punctuated the theme by encouraging motorists to drive in an aggressive manner."
In the case of Nissan, the video showcasing its Micra model depicts a driver hitting the road at an excessive speed before braking perilously close to a pedestrian crossing a street. Nissan argued its driver was operating the vehicle at "applicable speed limits" and the braking portion was to highlight the car's high-tech safety features. But the ASA nixed that argument by pointing out no reference to any speed limits and claimed the portrayal of the actor behind the wheel demonstrated the driver was in some sort of rush.
Fiat claimed its ad showing four models on a track at high speed was created to emulate the experience of having a Mattel Hot Wheels game set. But since the video was targeted at U.K. audiences, the ASA claimed that the viewership would not be aware of (or understand) the Hot Wheels toys and would instead interpret the ad as encouraging unsafe driving.