A national press ad for Fidelity International, an investment management services company, seen in the Sunday Telegraph on 4 December 2016. The ad featured an image of a woman driving a convertible car.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because the driver featured was not shown to be wearing a seat belt.
Fidelity Administration Services Ltd t/a Fidelity International stated that the ad was intended to convey to prospective clients that an investment with Fidelity International might afford them the opportunity to enjoy life and make the most of the proceeds of their savings. The image in the ad was selected for its sense of humour and the quality of life that it conveyed. They stated that the driver in the ad was seen to be enjoying her drive in a classic convertible and they believed that helped readers to imagine a happy and comfortable life, which might include the option of driving a vehicle like that. They stated the image conveyed a general sense of contentment, for which the car only formed a small part. They said there was no suggestion that the image was promoting either the car or the manner of driving, and they did not believe that the reader would make any link between the car and the financial products, which formed the main message in the ad.
Fidelity International further stated that the driver featured was not in breach of any current UK law or regulatory requirement. They said the compulsory fitting of seatbelts to cars became UK law in 1967 and therefore it was unlikely that the car featured in the ad would have had those fitted at the time of manufacture. Further, if a seatbelt had been fitted at the time of manufacture, it would have been a lap belt that would not be visible, due to the angle of the photograph. They referred to the Highway Code, which required adults to wear a seatbelt only if those were fitted to a car, and did not require owners of cars manufactured prior to 1967 to retrofit any form of safety harness. They did not believe the ad was irresponsible by featuring the driver in that situation.
The Telegraph stated that they did not believe the ad depicted illegal behaviour. They said the woman shown in the ad was clearly driving a classic convertible car from an era when three-point safety belts were not a legal requirement, and which would have been likely to be fitted with a two-point lap belt. They reiterated that current law did not require cars that either were not fitted with seat belts, or were fitted with two-point lap belts, to have three-point safety belts fitted. They also referred to information on the government’s website, which stated “If your vehicle doesn't have seat belts, for example it's a classic car, you aren't allowed to carry any children under 3 years old in it … These rules only apply if your vehicle was originally made without seat belts”.
The ASA noted that the image of the mature woman driving the convertible car featured prominently in the ad and that she was depictedwith a smile on her face and her scarf flowing in the wind. The image showed her head, torso and part of her thighs; there were no seatbelts visible in the partial shot. Notwithstanding that, we considered that the focus of the ad was on the investment products sold by Fidelity International, which were targeted at those considering their financial options for retirement, and the image only served as an aspirational portrayal of a carefree, post-retirement lifestyle. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to encourage readers to disregard the importance of wearing seat belts.
In addition, while the vehicle was not fully visible in the ad, we noted that the car depicted was likely to be a classic car, based on the design of the steering wheel, the chrome trim of the windscreen and the dashboard. Therefore, it was likely that the car depicted was made without seatbelts, or that it was fitted with over-the-lap seatbelts, which would not be visible in the image used. We understood that there were no legal requirements for drivers of cars that were originally made without seat belts, for example classic cars, to wear seat belts or to have seat belts fitted retrospectively. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to have depicted a driving practice that was likely to condone or encourage a breach of the Highway Code.
For the above reasons, we considered that the ad was unlikely to condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving and concluded that it was not in breach of the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 19.2 19.2 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 is likely to condone or encourage a breach of those rules of the Highway Code that are legal requirements if that driving practice seems to take place on a public road or in a public space. Vehicles' capabilities may be demonstrated on a track or circuit if it is obviously not in use as a public highway. (Motoring), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.