A Facebook post by the car leasing company, LINGsCars, posted on 16 June 2020, included the text “***BLACK***. In light of recent events, I’m resurrecting my Audi deal”. The ad featured the image “BLACK CARS MATTER. I ASKED HOLLY FOR A HEADLINE FOR THIS A4…AND SHE SAID: ‘ONCE YOU GO BLACK, YOU NEVER GO BACK!’”. The ad then featured an image of a black raised hand with a wristband displaying the Audi logo alongside an image of a black Audi. Text stated “AUDI A4 BLACK POWER EDITION”. Further text stated "MANUAL GEARBOX (BIG GEARKNOB)”.
IssueThree complainants, who believed the image of the claims “Black Cars Matter”, “Once you go black, you never go back” and the image of the raised fist were insensitive and offensive, challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious offence and was socially irresponsible.
ResponseLingscars.com Ltd believed “Black cars matter” was inoffensive. They said the phrase was a pun on the launch of the new car, the Audi “Black Edition”, and that “Once you go black, you never go back” was a well-known phrase that would not be offensive to black people. They said the image of the raised fist was the symbol of the Black Power movement; they argued it was a positive symbol and was not seen as offensive in other contexts, such as the recent Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton raised his fist.
AssessmentUpheld The ASA noted that the ad appeared shortly after the Black Lives Matter protests and during a public debate about racism in the UK. We considered that people would understand the headline “BLACK CARS MATTER”, the image of the raised fist and the name “Audi A4 Black Power Edition” to be references to the Black Lives Matter and Black Power movements. By using that slogan and iconography simply to draw attention to an ad for a car had the effect of trivialising the serious issues raised by those movements. The claim, “ONCE YOU GO BLACK, YOU NEVER GO BACK!” in addition to the claim “BIG GEARKNOB”, we also considered was likely to be seen as objectifying and fetishising black men. Because those claims, particularly in the context of an ad for an unrelated product alongside references to recent protests opposing racism against black people, were likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race, we considered the ad was socially irresponsible. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Advertisements must comply with the law and broadcasters must make that a condition of acceptance. (Social Responsibility) and 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Lingscars.com Ltd to remove the ad.