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ASA Adjudication on Colt Car Company Ltd

Colt Car Company Ltd t/a Mitsubishi Motors

Watermoor
Cirencester
Gloucestershire
GL7 1LF

Date:

23 April 2008

Media:

National press

Sector:

Motoring

Number of complaints:

1

Agency:

Golley Slater

Complaint Ref:

47701

Ad

A national press ad for Mitsubishi Motors was headlined “IT’S RUDE TO GUZZLE THE NEW MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER”. Further text stated “The Outlander is an SUV that defies the 4x4 conventions …”. The ad showed a photograph of the vehicle standing in a stone-walled field in rural countryside at the foot of a hillside.

Issue

The complainant, who owned the land used in the photograph and believed it was easily identifiable, challenged whether:

1.  Mitsubishi had infringed his rights of privacy, because he had never given permission for the use of the land in an ad; and

2.  the ad was likely to provoke violent or anti-social behaviour; he was concerned that others would assume that permission for the use of the land had been given for financial gain.    

CAP Code (Edition 11)

11.113.1a

Response

1. The Colt Car Company (Colt) acknowledged that they had not obtained the written consent of the landowners before using the image in the ad.  They did not believe, however, that the ad portrayed an identifiable possession and pointed out that the CAP Code allowed the use of general public locations without prior permission.  

Colt submitted the original photograph taken of the land and explained that the distinctive features from the original, such as farm buildings and the landscape of the skyline, had been removed or retouched; Colt also submitted the amended photograph for the ASA's attention. They explained that they had then superimposed a photograph of the vehicle onto the photograph of the scenery. They argued that, given the changes made to the photograph and the very small portion of land owned by the complainant that was visible, the field and not the hillside in the background, it was not generally recognisable from the finished ad.  They further pointed out that a public footpath ran across the land, which they believed reinforced their view that the area shown was a public location.       

2.  Colt reiterated their view that the land was not generally identifiable in the ad. They believed, however, if readers were to assume that permission for the use of the land had been given for financial gain, then it was unclear what harm, if any, the complainant would suffer as a result. Colt did not believe that any implication of endorsement could be said to condone or provoke violence or anti-social behaviour.  

Assessment

1.  Not upheld

The ASA noted the CAP Code urged marketers to obtain written permission before referring to or portraying members of the public or their identifiable possessions.  We acknowledged that the complainant was concerned that the land used in the ad was easily identifiable and, therefore, his rights of privacy had been contravened.

While we appreciated that concern, we considered that, because only a relatively small amount of privately owned land was shown in the ad, it was not readily recognisable.  We concluded that, in this case, the complainant's rights of privacy had not been infringed.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clause 13.1a (Protection of privacy) but did not find it in breach.

2.  Not upheld

We understood that the complainant was concerned that readers of the ad could wrongly infer that permission for the use of the land had been given in exchange for profit.  He was further concerned that that false impression could give rise to bad feeling and provoke anti-social behaviour amongst those who took that interpretation from it.  

While we did not dismiss that concern lightly, we noted the efforts made by Colt to remove many of the distinguishing features and considered that readers would not readily recognise the complainants land.  In addition, we considered that even if a small number of readers did recognise the view in the photograph, it was unlikely to provoke the reaction the complainant feared.  We concluded, therefore, that the ad was unlikely to provoke violent or anti-social behaviour.  

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code clause 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) but did not find it in breach.

Action

No action required.  

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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