A poster for MINI UK, displayed at a poster site beside the A352, stated "THE A532. IT'S MILES MORE FUN IN A MINI." The car was shown with blurred red and white lines trailing from behind.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful, because it depicted and encouraged dangerous driving.
BMW (UK) Ltd t/a MINI UK said the visual showed the car being driven appropriately and the red and white lines came from the lights at the back of the car, which reflected the night-time setting. They said the poster's extreme wide format and the red and white lines referred to the long distances that could be driven in the car, rather than to excessive speed or unsafe driving. They said the poster communicated the fun that could be had by driving a MINI on certain ordinary local roads. They said the use of the word 'fun' referenced their brand values and how it felt to drive a MINI.
The ASA noted MINI's view that the red and white lines came from the car's lights. We acknowledged the red lines appeared to emanate from the car's rear lights. However, we noted there were a large number of lines of different colours, and we considered that would give those who saw the ad the impression of a fast-moving vehicle. We considered that this imagery was exaggerated by the wide format of the poster.
We noted MINI's assertion that the use of the word 'fun' related to the driving experience and, in isolation, we considered it was unlikely to encourage irresponsible driving. However, we considered that the text in conjunction with the impression of a fast-moving vehicle was likely to convey the impression of excessive speed, and that that was the main message of the ad. Because the poster gave the impression that the car was being driven at excessive speed, in a built-up environment, along with the text "IT'S MILES MORE FUN IN A MINI", we concluded it was irresponsible and was likely to encourage dangerous driving.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
Marketing communications for motor vehicles, fuel or accessories must not depict or refer to practices that condone or encourage anti-social behaviour.
Marketing communications must not depict speed in a way that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly or to break the law.
To avoid the implication of irresponsible driving through excessive speed, care must be taken in the style of presentation of marketing communications. Particular care must be taken in, for example, cinema commercials and in marketing communications that appear in electronic media to avoid moving images that imply excessive speed. If they are shown in normal driving circumstances on public roads, vehicles must be seen not to exceed UK speed limits. and 19.4 19.4 Marketers must not make speed or acceleration the main message of their marketing communications. Marketing communications may give general information about a vehicle's performance, such as acceleration and mid-range statistics, braking power, road-holding and top speed. (Motoring).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told BMW (UK) Ltd t/a MINI UK to ensure they did not make speed the focus of their advertising in future.