Cookies policy statement
We are using cookies on our site to provide you with the best user experience.
Disabling cookies may prevent our website from working efficiently. Click ok to remove this message (we will remember your choice).
OK

ASA Ruling on BMW (UK) Ltd

BMW (UK) Ltd

Ellesfield Avenue
Bracknell
Berkshire
RG12 8TA

Date:

15 October 2014

Media:

Internet (on own site)

Sector:

Motoring

Number of complaints:

1

Agency:

Sterntag Film GmbH

Complaint Ref:

A14-275555

Ad

A video ad on www.bmw.co.uk featured footage of a BMW M4 car being driven on a road and a racetrack. The ad began with an empty shot of a race circuit and of a tree-lined road, then showed footage of a man driving the car while lowering the convertible roof interspersed with footage of a man in a crash helmet and racing overalls. These images were followed by shots of the second man driving the car on the race track, including skidding, accelerating and cornering, intercut with footage of the first man driving on the road. At the end of the ad the cars were shown drawing to a stop in matching on-screen positions and with very similar backgrounds, and footage alternated between each man exiting the car.

Issue

The complainant, who believed the ad featured and encouraged unsafe driving, challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

BMW (UK) Ltd said the ad differentiated clearly between the sedate cruising of one M4 on public roads, where the Highway Code was obeyed at all times, and the on-track element. They stated that the road driver was calm and in control, that he did not overtake other traffic, cross white lines, or exceed UK speed limits, and that the roads were clear of other vehicles and pedestrians. They said that engine noise was not included in the ad in order to avoid making speed or acceleration the focus, and that the main message of the ad was the design of the car not speed or acceleration.

BMW stated that the sections of the ad featuring the car on a race track were clearly differentiated through the red curbs on the closed track and the driver in protective clothing, including a full-face helmet. They noted that it was permissible to demonstrate a vehicle's capabilities on a race track and that the M4 was the only car on the circuit. They said the speedometer was only seen reading 119 km/h (approximately 73 mph) and they believed that this was not an excessive speed in a closed track environment. BMW stated that the stylistic device of the cars stopping in matching positions with similar backgrounds was deliberately used only at the end of the ad in order to avoid the impression of unsafe or irresponsible driving while on public roads.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA noted that BMW believed the two elements of the ad were clearly differentiated from each other, and that the footage of the driver on the road did not demonstrate road use contrary to the Highway Code. However, we considered that in some shots it was unclear as to which setting was being shown. Although we acknowledged the CAP Code stated that the capability of a car could be demonstrated in a track setting if it was obviously not in use as a public highway, we considered that the editing of the ad blurred the distinction between track and road. We also considered that the intercutting of the footage drew clear links between the road and racing use of the car, and therefore condoned the use of the car in the manner shown by both drivers. The ad featured the car cutting corners, skidding, and driving fast, and the sound of the vehicle accelerating was also audible. We therefore considered that the majority of the ad focused on the way the car was being driven and its performance and speed. Because we considered that the ad encouraged unsafe and irresponsible driving we concluded that it breached the Code.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 19.2, 19.3 and 19.4 (Motoring).

Action

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BMW (UK) Ltd to ensure that future ads did not link racetrack and road driving styles in a way that focused on speed or encourage a manner of driving that would be irresponsible.

How to comply with the rules

For advice and training on the Advertising Codes please visit the CAP website.

Latest tweets

Make a complaint

Find out what types of ads we deal with and how to make a complaint.

Press Zone

This section is for journalists only. Here you will be able to access embargoed material, breaking news and briefing papers as well as profile details for the ASA press office.