Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad for Jaguar Land Rover, seen in January 2023, showed several Land Rover Defenders driving in difficult terrain on an island. The ad ended with a Land Rover Defender reverse parking towards the edge of a cliff. It featured a view of the vehicle’s dashboard screen with footage from the rear camera as it reversed, showing yellow guidelines on the ground behind the car running up to the cliff edge. The screen also featured an aerial view of the vehicle with a curved red line on the ground directly behind one side of the car. The vehicle was then shown braking and coming to a halt. On-screen text stated, “Challenging off-road driving requires training and experience. Risk of injury and damage. Never drive beyond your abilities”. A further shot showed three Land Rover Defenders parked along the top of the cliff edge.
Six viewers challenged whether the ad:
1. misleadingly suggested that the parking sensor could alert drivers to a cliff edge; and
2. condoned dangerous and irresponsible driving.
1. Jaguar Land Rover Ltd said the parking sensor and reverse camera screen were additional features available to the driver, who remained fully responsible for the driving and control of the vehicle. They believed there was no indication that sole reliance on the reverse screen was either the case in the ad or in general use of a vehicle, and that as with any image showing interior or exterior rear view mirrors, their presence as an aid did not indicate that the driver should desist from any other normal observation around the vehicle.
Jaguar Land Rover said the ad did not suggest that the sensor and screen could alert the driver to the edge of the cliff, and the footage of the screen entirely replicated the view from the rear cameras of the parking area and the cliff. They said it was an absolute factual representation of the surroundings already seen by the driver.
They explained further that on the reverse screen the pair of yellow lines reflected only the geometry of the steering wheels, and the track the vehicle would follow under that direction. They said the yellow lines neither appeared to, nor could they perform any alert or warning of the cliff or otherwise, as they only showed the direction of the steering of the vehicle. However, they said in the unlikely event that the driver used those yellow lines alone, the hazard - the cliff - was visible on the screen and it was inconceivable that any driver would then do anything but stop.
They also clarified that the curved red line, seen in the ad on the rear left side of the vehicle, was an alert to the driver of the rocks in that location, and the line was not visibly associated with the cliff. They said the rocks were visible in the side view, and were of a height that would impact with the underside of the vehicle in approximately half a metre. They highlighted that the reverse alarm would also usually sound due to the pile of rocks, and the red line neither appeared to be, nor was it a warning of anything other than the proximity to the rocks it had identified.
Clearcast said they required that the sequences of the parking sensors were accurate demonstrations of how the vehicle and its features worked, and they had received assurance that this was the case. They said the car was shown reversing towards a boulder, something which would have been picked up by the parking sensors, and they approved it on that basis. They said they did not expect a driver experienced enough to drive on the extreme terrain in the ad to be solely reliant on a rear-view camera for safety, but the visuals showed that the rear camera could assist with avoiding obstacles such as boulders which presented a hazard to the driver.
2. Jaguar Land Rover said that proximity to a hazard was not equivalent to condoning irresponsible or dangerous driving. They said it was clear that the driver had chosen a parking space three to four metres from the cliff, and while the image was striking and the complainants might have perceived some potential hazard, the location was a safe distance away. They further said that with no measure of special skills any responsible driver was capable of safely carrying out such a manoeuvre, and there was no indication that the driver should abandon all usual driving skills and precautions. Additionally, they highlighted the superimposed text encouraged viewers to drive within their skills and experience, and if a mechanical failure to the footbrake occurred, there was a hand brake and also a transmission lock, or the driver could engage the forward gear and drive away.
They highlighted examples of everyday driving and parking carried out while having proximate risks, which they considered drivers understood as entirely normal and acceptable. They said that proximity to cliffs was commonplace in driving and there were many roads and parking places running alongside, or on the edge of cliffs, such as on the South West and South coasts of the UK, and in Snowdonia and the Highlands. They also highlighted that Stelvio Pass in Switzerland, commonly featured in ads, had a road with drops of many hundreds of metres with no barriers. They added that drivers also regularly used fast A-roads in the UK with closing speeds of up to 120 mph, with no separation other than a painted white line.
They also explained that the ad had been seen by millions of viewers with only six complaints.
Clearcast said the visuals in the ad showed a car tackling extreme situations, and although the vehicle was shown on a road at the beginning, the story was about off-road driving where a driver expected conditions to be challenging and to require more care and attention than ordinary driving. They said the setting was clearly depicted as a remote location, one which would not be accessed by a vehicle unless the driver was experienced enough to attempt the route and was in a vehicle specially designed for such challenging conditions – which differed from depicting a car driving on a dedicated road, or from featuring a standard everyday car attempting the same route. They highlighted that Jaguar Land Rover also chose to add superimposed text to clarify that the ad featured specialist activity that was removed from everyday driving, and as such anyone wishing to do the same should be aware that training and experience were a necessity.
1. Not upheld
A Land Rover Defender was shown in the ad reversing towards a parking sign, marked “P”, on the edge of a tall cliff. Before the car braked and came to a halt the ad briefly captured footage of the car’s interior screen, which was a split view of a reverse camera and an aerial ‘birds eye’ view of the vehicle. The principal view on the screen, the reverse camera, showed the car’s movement towards the visible rock edge and a pair of parallel yellow guidelines directed straight behind. The ASA considered viewers were likely to interpret that the yellow guidelines were indicating the direction of the car’s movement and the tracks that its tyres would follow, rather than the distance to, or presence of, the cliff edge, which the driver was likely to be otherwise aware of already. The smaller bird’s eye view featured a red line on the rocky surface directly behind the left corner of the car, while the cliff edge was beyond the scope of that view. We considered the smaller view was unlikely to be immediately clear or noticeable to viewers during the brief shot. However, if viewed it was likely to be understood to be indicating an obstacle in a small area behind one side of the car.
We understood that the footage on the in-car screen was the live reverse camera footage captured during the filming of the parking manoeuvre on the cliff top. We considered that the ad did not depict or imply that the car’s features had alerted the driver to stop or apply the brakes due to the presence of the cliff edge or the large drop below at any point, particularly as there were no warning or alert sounds usually associated with parking sensors. We therefore considered that the ad depicted an accurate demonstration of the reverse camera and parking sensor features in use as visual assistance to the driver during the manoeuvre.
We concluded the ad did not misleadingly exaggerate the vehicle’s safety features, or suggest that such features could enable it to be driven in complete safety.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 20.5 (Motoring), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
The BCAP Code stated that ads must not condone or encourage dangerous, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving, and must not suggest that driving safely is staid or boring.
We considered that the overall tone of the ad was fantastical. As seen in the opening and closing scenes, it was set on a small, mystical island with dramatic mountainous and rocky landscapes where deserts, waterfalls and lush green areas were set immediately together. The cars were offloaded from a boat and driven through empty roads in a town, before moving into increasingly rough and remote off-road terrains. They passed a sign that said “Welcome to above and beyond” which we considered was likely to be interpreted as a light-hearted comment and added to the impression that the setting was fictitious.
While the ad featured certain scenes or activities that alluded to everyday urban driving, they were shown in extreme and fantastical locations, such as the lone parking sign at the top of a craggy rock formation, and one of the cars stopping for wild horses galloping through a set of traffic lights which were signalling red, in the middle of an empty, roadless plain. A car was also shown driving through a tall plunging waterfall, midway down a sheer cliff and alongside a “CAR WASH” sign, while dramatic music accompanied the scene.
While we acknowledged that the car in the final scene was shown reversing in close proximity to a cliff edge, we considered the car was driven in a slow and calculated manner during the manoeuvre and was shown coming to a stop ahead of the edge. Because the ad was portrayed in a fantastical manner and featured extreme off-road locations that drivers were highly unlikely to encounter in everyday driving, we considered the ad was sufficiently removed from reality not to encourage or condone dangerous or irresponsible driving and emulation.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.4 (Harm and offence) and 20.1 (Motoring), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.