Racy Advertising Could Land Dealers In Trouble Warns Watchdog
- December 3, 2019
- Posted by: John Swift
- Category: Automotive Industry
Dealers advertising used cars and especially higher powered ones should steer clear of pushing its performance in a way which could encourage reckless driving by the next owner.
Words or images which promote what the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) describes as `unsafe or irresponsible driving’ will fall foul of Section 19 of its Code and dealers using them could face prosecution and a fine from the Advertising Standards Authority.
The basic rule when writing an advert or using still images or video is to think of road safety and how the ad is viewed in that context. Words highlighting the thrill of flooring the accelerator on a 500 bhp supercar and seeing how fast it can get to a triple-figure speed or footage of it smoking the rear tyres or sliding through a bend may be acceptable on a TV motoring programme but are probably not when appearing on a dealer’s website!
For example, Fiat and MINI adverts which made the car’s sportiness the central message with phrases such as `it gives one hell of a ride’ and being shown against a blurred background to suggest speed have been deemed to go beyond what is acceptable.
Similarly, dealers need to exercise caution when describing a car’s hands-free technology. Many cars have it allowing drivers to make phone calls without taking their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel and it is usually regarded as being a good thing from a safety perspective, but one Jaguar ad which was seen to promote hands-free work-related tasks was ruled unacceptable.
Again the basic standpoint of CAP is anything which, if copied on the road by the owner, could break the Highway Code could be called in and examined by it.
Road Safety Is The Key To It
One way for dealers to get around this is to go to the extreme and exaggerate to a point which is obviously unrealistic and could never be transferred to real life. This allows them to get across the message they want about the performance or level of driver-aid sophistication without getting into trouble.
‘Using a scenario that is very clearly fantastical, to the point that viewers are unlikely to see it as an actual demonstration of the vehicle’s acceleration, speed or handling, is more likely to be considered acceptable.’
The standards body says
‘Ads that feature motoring are subject to Section 19 of the CAP Code, and road safety is key to these rules. Rule 19.2 states that advertising should not “condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving” or depict behaviour that, if emulated, could result in a breach of the legal requirements in the Highway Code. Marketers must therefore ensure that their ads are responsible when it comes to road safety, which includes demonstrating sensible driving.’