A video ad, on Jaguar Land Rover Ltd's YouTube channel, titled "The Art of Villainy" was presented as part of Jaguar's "GoodToBeBad" ad campaign. The ad featured actor Tom Hiddleston playing a suave villain and his character talked about the factors that made a good villain. The ad featured the character driving a Jaguar F-Type in an underground car park and on a public road.
The complainant, who believed the ad featured and encouraged unsafe driving, challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible.
Jaguar Land Rover Ltd said that the ad was one of a sequence featuring well-known British actors playing fictional British villains and that they were filmed in such a way that emulated Hollywood film qualities. They said the ad featuring Tom Hiddleston (which was the subject of this complaint) was set, almost entirely, in an underground car park and that during this time the car barely moved. They said there was a brief revving of the engine following the character speaking of 'sounding like a villain' and a brief moment where another car (containing Tom's nemesis) briefly slid (at a slow pace) following Tom's character releasing a water spray on the floor of the car park with a James Bond like remote control device.
They believed the ad focused on the appearance of the car both internally and externally along with the engine performance, adaptive dynamics and the array of technology. They said that when the car left the car park towards the end of the ad, it was shown travelling at normal road speeds and accelerated briefly along The Embankment. They said that although no specific speed was shown, the police were present during filming and the speed limit was not exceeded. They believed the brief moment of acceleration that was shown was not excessive and was not the main message of the ad.
The ASA considered the ad focused on the appearance of the car and how its style mirrored that of the character being played by Tom Hiddleston who was clearly presented as a sophisticated and cultured villain who was matched by the sophistication of the car in both its appearance and performance. We therefore considered that although the ad featured direct and implied references to speed, it was not the primary focus.
However, acceleration and speed did feature in the ad when the car was shown driving up the ramp to exit the underground car park and when it was shown being driven on a public road at night. The noise of acceleration and the speed with which the car went up the ramp in the car park appeared to suggest significant speed within an enclosed environment. We also considered significant speed was suggested when the car accelerated on the public road after the character said "Now brace yourselves" and again when the car exited a tunnel and sped away from other cars on the road. Whilst on-screen text stated "Professional driver. Closed course. Always obey speed limits", we considered the overall impression consumers would take from those scenes was of a car being driven on a public road (with other cars present) at speed and that the on-screen text would not negate that impression. Whilst we acknowledged the sequences were brief, we considered that the second part of the ad suggested that the car was being driven at excessive speeds and that the ad therefore encouraged irresponsible driving.
We considered the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 19.4 (Motoring) but did not find it in breach.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must contain nothing that is likely to condone or encourage violence or anti-social behaviour.
(Harm and offence),
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.
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. (Motoring).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Jaguar Land Rover Ltd not to portray speed or driving behaviour that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future.