A radio ad for banaway.co.uk, a claims management company, heard on 11 October 2017, featured dialogue between an authoritative figure and a driver: “The accused was driving recklessly”; “I’m usually a pretty careful driver”; “Turns out he had previous”; “I do a lot of miles. I picked up nine points for speeding. 51 in a 40. Another time I was doing 62 in a 50, but it was on motorway with road works on the side”; “The law is the law. No excuses”; “I’m a salesman. I face losing my licence, my job”.
A voice-over then stated “There are two sides to every story. If you’re faced with an upcoming driving conviction Banaway will ensure your side is heard”.
The driver then stated, “Thankfully a Banaway solicitor persuaded the judge that I shouldn’t be banned and it didn’t cost me a fortune or my job”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it condoned or encouraged dangerous or irresponsible driving behaviour prejudicial to safety and in breach of the legal requirements of the Highway Code.
Fernard t/a banaway.co.uk (Banaway) stated that they wanted the ad to address mitigating circumstances for speeding. They stated that it was a driver’s legal right to have their version of events heard fairly and in a balanced manner.
Banaway stated that people earned a living from driving and included taxi drivers, couriers and lorry drivers. Banaway believed that these types of drivers were statistically going to find themselves in situations where they would unknowingly be on a motorway where a 50 mph speed limit applied.
Banaway stated that the character in the ad had a job which required them to be able to drive, and that they faced losing their job because of an unintentional mistake they had committed whilst driving. Banaway commented that such circumstances could be taken into consideration at court before a judgement was made to convict a driver for a motoring offence.
Banaway stated that most couriers would cover 2000–3000 miles per week, which they believed was ten times the mileage of an average driver. They believed that this consequentially meant that couriers were ten times more likely on average to unintentionally encounter the situation that was depicted in the ad, particularly in areas with which they were unfamiliar.
Radiocentre believed that consumers would understand the reference to picking up points for speeding on the motorway, in the context of the ad’s scenario, as an indication that the driver was driving within what he thought was the speed limit for a motorway but had, in fact, not realised that there was a lower speed limit of 50 mph due to ‘road works on the side’. Furthermore, they believed that it was unlikely that listeners would interpret the driver’s statement “… and another time I was doing 62 in a 50, but it was a motorway with roadworks at the side” as inferring that irresponsible driving was permissible or that a breach of the Highway Code was being condoned. Instead, listeners would understand that this particular statement was part of the overall creative treatment, which clearly presented “two sides” of mitigating circumstances”.
Radiocentre therefore believed that the law was not being deliberately broken but, instead, the ad represented a mitigating factor which would be presented by Banaway in court to ensure that “both sides of the story” were heard.
Radiocentre believed that the majority of consumers would understand that the ad was depicting a motorist’s right to have all relevant matters in a case to be presented in court and that the Banaway would ensure that that was done.
The ASA understood that the ad was portraying how Banaway could help motorists who were facing the possibility of being convicted of a motoring offence.
We understood that whether or not a motorist was convicted of a driving offence depended on the circumstances of the case and would, ultimately, be for a court of law to decide.
The ad made references to previous penalties the character (the driver) had on his record for speeding, who had stated, “Another time I was doing 62 in a 50, but it was on a motorway with road works on the side”. We considered that this suggested that driving above the motorway road works speed limit was permissible. However, we understood that under the Highway Code it was a legal requirement that whilst road works were on-going, motorists must not exceed any temporary maximum speed limit.
Because of that, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible because it condoned or encouraged dangerous or irresponsible driving behaviour prejudicial to safety and in breach of the legal requirements of the Highway Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 20.1 20.1 Advertisements must not condone or encourage dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving or motorcycling. Advertisements must not suggest that driving or motorcycling safely is staid or boring. and 20.2 20.2 Advertisements must not condone or encourage a breach of the legal requirements of the Highway Code. (Motoring)
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told banaway.co.uk that their future advertising must not condone or encourage dangerous or irresponsible driving behaviour prejudicial to safety and in breach of the legal requirements of the Highway Code.