Ad description

A pre-roll YouTube ad for Abarth UK, a car manufacturer, seen on 25 August 2023, featured scenes from the film Mission Impossible 7 in which an old model of a yellow Fiat car was used in a high-speed car chase in an urban setting. The car was seen weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, making sharp turns and jumping a red light. On-screen text stated, “The Mission gets electric”. The ad then transitioned into a scene which showed a new yellow Abarth 500e car being driven on various roads. Further on-screen text stated, “100% electric. 100% Abarth. The new Abarth 500e. Mission Possible”. Text at the bottom of the ad stated, “images from the original movie Mission Impossible 7 produced and broadcast by Paramount Pictures Corporation”. The ad ended by stating information about the theatrical release date for the upcoming Mission Impossible film. The theme tune for Mission Impossible was played throughout the ad.


The complainant, who believed the ad depicted a car being driven dangerously, challenged whether it condoned and encouraged irresponsible and illegal driving practices.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles UK Ltd t/a Abarth did not believe the ad represented real-life driving capabilities or condoned or encouraged irresponsible or illegal driving practices.

They said the ad was essentially split into two sections, with the first half being footage from the film Mission Impossible 7, the latest film in the well-known Mission Impossible franchise. More specifically, they said the ad contained scenes depicted in the official trailer for the film, which was broadcast separately in the UK at around the same time as the ad in question and had the obvious intention of portraying fantasy and fictional driving scenes.

They also believed the scenes from the film trailer used in the ad, which featured the famous actor Tom Cruise and the iconic Mission Impossible film theme music, would have been instantly recognisable to UK viewers and that they would have therefore undoubtedly interpreted the scenes as fantasy.

Abarth said the car in the first half of the ad was a fictional self-driving car which did not exist as a production vehicle. The fictional car was based upon the original 1957 Fiat 500, a car which had not been in production for over 60 years. They said the fictional scenes did not feature the real-life Abarth 500e, which was the car being advertised.

They said the second half of the ad featured a stark transformation to an entirely different car, the current Abarth 500e, which was driven under normal driving conditions. They said there was a clear change of pace, and although interwoven with some non-driving scenes from the film, those scenes did not associate fantasy or unsafe driving with the modern car.

Abarth said the ad was presented in a manner which demonstrated to viewers that the fictional 1957 Fiat 500 did not have the same real-life capabilities of either the original or the Abarth 500e being advertised.

They believed the fanciful scenes from the first half of the ad contrasted with the normal real-life driving of the modern, real-life car in the second half of the ad, and that viewers were not likely to believe they could drive the real car on British roads in the manner in which the fictional car was presented. They said the modern car would be clearly perceived by viewers as entirely distinct from the Mission Impossible scenes featuring the fictional car. They said viewers would have understood those were fictional scenes, that they would not have thought the scenes were filmed on normal public roads and would have understood they were film scenes filmed on closed circuit.

Google confirmed the ad was served through Google Ads, a self-administered system. Under the terms agreed to by advertisers, they said it was the advertiser’s responsibility to abide by applicable law and regulations, including the CAP Code.


Not upheld

The CAP Code required that marketing communications must not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving. If it could be emulated, marketing communications must not depict a driving practice that was likely to condone or encourage a breach of those rules of the Highway Code that were legal requirements if that driving practice seemed to take place on a public road or in a public space. The Code also required that marketing communications must not depict speed in a way that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly or 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.

The ASA considered that viewers would recognise that the opening scenes of the ad were taken from the well-known film franchise Mission Impossible. They featured the famous actor Tom Cruise, who typically starred in stunt action films. On-screen text stated, “images from the original movie Mission Impossible 7”, which would also have made viewers aware that those scenes were from a fictional action film.

The film scenes featured a ‘self-driving’ car, which had a retro 1960s appearance, which we understood was based on a real vintage model, but did not exist in real life. The scenes featuring the fictional car took place on cobbled roads in a city-centre setting and featured high-speed driving manoeuvres including sharp turns and cars being overtaken. However, we considered viewers would clearly recognise the driving was part of an action sequence from a well-known film franchise. We considered viewers would understand the action scenes featuring film stars and a self-driving retro car were fantastical and not representative of, or recognisable as, real-life driving conditions.

The scenes in the second part of the ad depicted the Abarth 500e, which was not a fictional car, and we considered viewers would understand that the Abarth 500e was the main subject of the ad, alongside the promotional scenes for the Mission Impossible 7 film. We acknowledged the two cars featured in the ad had a similar shape, size and colour. However, the Abarth 500e had a more modern appearance and was also shown at the same time as on-screen text stating “Gets electric” and “100% electric”, which further reinforced that the Abarth 500e was a modern, electric car, presented in contrast to the fictional retro car in the Mission Impossible film scenes.

In addition, the Abarth 500e was not driven by Tom Cruise or any other recognisable characters from Mission Impossible. It was shown to be driven at a moderate speed on mostly tarmacked roads with no surrounding traffic. Although the scenes featuring the Abarth 500e were intercut with images of Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible film running, fighting and jumping, we considered those scenes did not depict dangerous driving practices, and viewers would distinguish them from the scenes featuring the Abarth 500e.

We therefore considered that there was a sufficiently clear distinction between the fantastical, action-packed depiction of the fictional retro car in the first part of the ad, and the real-life Abarth 500e car in the second part of the ad.

We considered that the driving displayed in the ad’s film scenes was unlikely to be interpreted as a real-life representation of the capabilities of the Abarth 500e and would not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving. We concluded the ad did not breach the Code.We investigated the ad under the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 19.2 and 19.3 (Motoring), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.

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