A TV ad for the Jaguar F-Type car, seen in early June 2017, showed the car being driven on an otherwise empty road through a rugged, mountainous and misty landscape. The ad included close-up shots and wider shots of the car being driven through the landscape, accompanied by audio of the car’s engine noise. A slow motion sequence included shots of the driver and a wide shot of the car approaching a tight corner. A final shot showed the car from behind as it approached a blind corner in the mist. That was followed by a blank black screen on which the claim “DON’T JUST TAKE THE CORNER. OWN IT” appeared.
Five complainants, who felt the ad showed the vehicle being driven at high speeds including around a blind corner, challenged whether the ad, and particularly the claim “DON’T JUST TAKE THE CORNER. OWN IT”, condoned or encouraged dangerous or irresponsible driving.
Jaguar Land Rover Ltd said they went to great lengths in creating and editing the ad to ensure that no speeding, aggressive, irresponsible or competitive driving behaviour was displayed, and to show the vehicle being driven in a controlled manner well within the speed limit, on an otherwise empty road.
Jaguar highlighted that the road was well laid-out and maintained and therefore suitable for cars to be driven safely. While the ad showed misty conditions, about two-thirds of the way through the ad the other side of the valley was visible and it was clear the conditions allowed for visibility of at least half a mile. That was enough visibility for the driver not to need to slow down or change their handling of the vehicle. They provided a series of satellite images and photographs showing the road and the conditions on the day of filming.
They said the car was filmed driving at between 40 and 60 miles per hour which was below the speed limit for the road. The ‘tight’ corner was taken at the lower end of that speed range. Slow motion was used for artistic effect, and they considered there was no implication in the ad that the vehicle was being driven at high speed. They provided satellite imagery of the tight corner, and said it showed that although it was an approximately 180 degree bend its inner area was flat, meaning that the entire approach and course through the bend was fully visible for the driver from start to finish.
Jaguar said that the ad’s final shot showed the car exiting the tight corner, rather than showing it approaching a blind corner. That final corner was actually more than 300 metres ahead, but the shot may have appeared foreshortened due to the use of a long lens. They said that even if the car had accelerated out of the tight corner to 60 mph, it would have had sufficient time to stop or slow to take the ‘blind’ corner.
Jaguar said the vehicle was not shown driving round a blind corner at any point, and was not seen to approach or drive around the corner shown at the end of the ad. They said that corner in fact had a flat inner area much like that shown earlier in the ad, and that the mist did not have any effect on the visibility or safe conduct of the car, nor did the ad show any irresponsible or unsafe behaviour.
With regard to the strapline “Don’t just take the corner, own it”, Jaguar said that making something “your own” meant treating it as something you wished to have and know to the fullest extent, and to show to yourself and others that you were familiar and comfortable with it. They said that led to fully controlled and confident handling of the corner, as displayed by the car in the ad. The ad did not contain any inference, or display, of irresponsibility.
Clearcast said that at the script-review stage, they had advised that the depiction of the car should adhere to the Highway Code, warned against showing the car being driven above the speed limit of the roads on which it would be shown, and said the driving should not look dangerous or irresponsible.
The ad showed an empty road, in an empty landscape, with no adjoining roads. It was clearly a deserted mountain road and the car was driven within the speed limit for that road. Clearcast said the ad only showed the car being driven around open and well-sighted corners; it was not shown being driven around any blind corners. The car was not driven irresponsibly, it remained on the correct side of the road at all times, and took the corners in a controlled manner. They said they had carefully compared the acceleration, sound effects and safety in the ad with that in similar ads, and found it to be in line with others in the category.
Clearcast said they thought the end strapline was acceptable because it implied that the corner was being driven in a controlled manner and not taken recklessly. They believed the strapline did not encourage dangerous or irresponsible driving but rather implied being responsible for, paying close attention to, and mastering the corner.
The ASA noted the satellite imagery and photographs Jaguar provided which showed the conditions on the day of filming, and the route of the road and the angles of its corners. We also noted their comment that the final shot showed the car exiting the previous corner and that the upcoming corner was not a blind corner. However, viewers of the ad did not have that information available to them. We considered that we must therefore assess the ad on the basis of how viewers were likely to interpret the landscape, road, conditions and handling of the car as they were shown in the ad.
The ad featured loud engine noise echoing around the mountainous landscape and showed the car being driven at speed along the winding road. However, we considered that the shots of the car did not suggest that it was being driven at excessive speed. We also noted the ad did not show the car being driven around any blind corners. While in the final shot the car was shown approaching what appeared to be a blind corner, we considered there was no suggestion that the driver was going to take the corner in a dangerous or irresponsible manner or without due regard to the road layout and conditions.
We noted the complainant’s concerns about the strapline “DON’T JUST TAKE THE CORNER. OWN IT”, but considered that viewers were likely to interpret it as relating to responsible cornering where the driver was very much in control, rather than as encouraging or condoning irresponsible or dangerous driving.
For those reasons we concluded the ad was not in breach of the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 20.1 and 20.3 (Motoring), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.