A TV ad and cinema ad for the Nissan Qashqai, see in late July and August 2017:
a. The TV ad featured shots of a Qashqai and a motorbike driving through an urban area. The motorbike was mainly shown on main roads, whereas the car was mainly shown driving down alleys and through a building site. A sequence towards the beginning of the ad showed the man driving the car glancing briefly into the wing mirror, followed by a shot of the motorbike overtaking a car between two lanes of traffic, and then the man glancing into the rear-view mirror. At one point the car turned from an alley into a road which was blocked by a crowd of people. The man looked into the rear-view mirror, saw the motorbike behind him, and put the car into reverse. One shot of the car showed it being driven into a dead-end on the building site and the driver using a dashboard screen to help him reverse. An excavator drove across the car’s path and the car came to a sudden halt. The ad finished with the car coming to a stop in a dock area, and the man getting out. A voice-over stated, “Technology is worthless if it doesn’t give you an edge.” The man watched the motorbike approach, and smiled as the rider took off her helmet and walked up to him. She moved close to him and then pushed her helmet into his chest as she grabbed the car keys out of his hand and moved towards the driver’s door of the car. The voice-over concluded, “The new Nissan Qashqai. Expect more. New intelligent technologies, new design.” Throughout the ad small print referencing features of the car appeared at the bottom of the screen, such as “INTELLIGENT 4x4”, “INTELLIGENT AROUND-VIEW MONITORS” and “REAR CROSS TRAFFIC ALERT”.
b. The cinema ad was the same as the TV ad.
Three complainants challenged whether the ad condoned or encouraged unsafe or irresponsible driving.
Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd (Nissan) said the ad depicted a motorcyclist and a Qashqai driver, who were revealed at the end of the ad to have arranged a rendezvous at a particular location, with the overall emphasis of the ad being the Qashqai driver utilising intelligent technologies which could deal with challenges posed by different urban environments. They said there was a suggestion that the driver and motorcyclist were keen to reach their destination on time, but there was no suggestion they were in a competition or race with one another, nor was there any suggestion that there was a ‘winner’ or ‘loser’. They had worked closely with Clearcast to ensure the ad did not create that impression.
Nissan said that in the shot where the motorbike was shown overtaking a car it was driving lawfully and sensibly within applicable speed limits; it was positioned to overtake gradually and safely. They said that the following shot, in which the Qashqai driver checked his mirror, was deliberately ambiguous as to whether or not the motorbike was actually behind him. The driver checked his mirrors regularly but the motorbike was never shown. They considered it was clear that the two vehicles were taking mainly different routes to their destination.
Nissan said that despite the industrial scenes and industrial vehicles shown, there was no sign that the Qashqai was being driven in areas that were entirely closed to the public or where it could not lawfully be driven. It travelled down side streets and unpaved roads, but that was not a breach of the Highway Code. In the crowd scene, the people were behind a temporary barrier, which implied that there would usually be access along that road, and the car was shown stopping firmly and deliberately at a very safe distance from the barrier.
The car was also shown driving into a fenced cul-de-sac; it was clear to the viewer that he had made that turning by mistake. The driver then used the car’s 360 degree monitor system to safely reverse back out and although he was paying attention to his surroundings, a digger drove behind him while he was reversing. Nissan said that scene was designed to show the potential benefits of another safety feature away from the public highway.
Nissan said the purpose of the ad, and specific scenes, was to demonstrate the utility of some of the various intelligent technologies and safety features available on selected Qashqai models, a message which was underlined by on-screen text which stated the name of the relevant technology as it was demonstrated, generally in the voice-over and at the end of the ad. The technology was shown to extricate the driver from various errors he made due to his apparent lack of familiarity with the route he was taking. They considered viewers would interpret the ad in that context.
Nissan accepted that the vehicles were not shown driving slowly but they considered they were shown driving within reasonable parameters. They did not break any speed limits and were not shown travelling at unsafe or excessive speeds. None of the language in the ad referred to speed, acceleration or power. The Qashqai was shown braking to a complete stop in a couple of scenes, demonstrating its strong braking ability, and in the final scene to indicate that the journey was over and that it had reached its final destination.
Clearcast, responding in relation to the TV ad, said that from the start of the clearance process the agency had confirmed the central point of the ad was to highlight the in-car technology that enabled the car to successfully navigate the city. They had been aware that the motorbike and car scenario may be seen as a race and so from an early stage they worked closely with the agency to remove any suggestion that was the case. The motorbike was instead intended to be a counterpoint to the Qashqai because it lacked the technology and comfort of the Qashqai and travelled through the city with difficulty. The various scenes showing the car were meant to show its features: uneven surfaces showed its ‘Intelligent Ride Control’ and ‘Intelligent 4x4’; a tunnel showed its ‘Intelligent Headlights’; the dead-end drew attention to the ‘Intelligent Around-View Mirror’ and ‘Rear Cross Traffic Alert’.
They said that at script stage they had agreed that the car should be shown driving at speeds appropriate to the setting, including where it was shown driving down an alleyway, on the construction site and through the road tunnel. None of the language in the ad referred to speed, acceleration or power. They considered the scene in which the car braked when it turned into the blocked road was acceptable, because the car was driving at a safe speed to take account of the reduced vision caused by the coloured smoke set off by the crowd. They said the car also was not shown carrying out any manoeuvres that could be considered dangerous, and that the driver was seen being attentive to his mirrors and the traffic around him. He was shown taking shortcuts that were not illegal or dangerous and used technology to his advantage while driving safely, considerately, and in compliance with the Highway Code. Clearcast said the whole focus of the ad was technology and how it could transform the experience of driving through a city. That was clarified when the voice-over stated, “Technology is worthless if it doesn’t give you an edge”. They considered the ad did not depict, and therefore did not condone or encourage, dangerous driving.
The Cinema Advertising Association (CAA), responding in relation to the cinema ad, said that when approving the ad they had been cognisant of the dangers of condoning or encouraging unsafe or irresponsible driving, particularly because the ad traced the progress of the car driver and motorcyclist in their endeavour to reach an agreed destination first. They appeared to achieve that by taking largely different routes, but the car driver made errors in choosing apparent shortcuts that were not effective. However, the car’s technology enabled him to extricate himself safely from the situations he found himself in. The CAA’s immediate concern was therefore that the driving portrayed in the ad should be safe and compliant with the Highway Code.
They felt the ad did not show the motorbike overtaking a car between two lanes of traffic, but rather that it was seen as the lead vehicle in the outside lane, moving out from the inner half of that lane when passing the vehicle in the inside lane, before completing the overtake and moving to the inside lane as recommended by the Highway Code. They also said that when the car driver looked into the rear-view mirror after the car was stopped by the blocked road, the motorbike was substantially distant and stationary on a road at the extremity of a narrow, arched alleyway, positioned at 90 degrees to the car; they said there was no danger in the driver reversing the car. Additionally, when the car reversed out of the dead-end on the building site, the dashboard technology showed the way was clear before the car moved, and the same technology stopped the car when the digger suddenly drove across its path. Each time a technological intervention was demonstrated, it was highlighted by on-screen text.
The CAA considered it was clear that the ad demonstrated the car’s technological ability to extract the driver from embarrassing and potentially dangerous situations brought about by his not knowing the local urban geography as well he thought he did. That was communicated by the exasperated expression of the motorcyclist when she pushed her helmet into his stomach and took the keys from him. The CAA considered that while the strapline “Technology is worthless if it doesn’t give you an edge” acknowledged the friendly competition between the car driver and motorcyclist, the ad as a whole was not in breach of the Code.
The ASA noted the ad showed a car taking a sometimes unconventional route through an urban environment, and we considered that in that context the presentation of the two vehicles taking different routes and briefly crossing paths as they travelled through the city would be understood by viewers as the two vehicles engaging in some level of competition to reach a common destination. However, we also noted that the first technological feature of the car, “Intelligent Ride Control”, was demonstrated early in the ad when the car was driving on an uneven surface in an alleyway, and that further features were demonstrated throughout the ad.
While we considered the car was generally shown travelling at speed, and that the ad’s fast cuts and heavy music contributed to an overall impression of quick paced action, it was not shown driving at speeds excessive to the environments it passed through. We further considered that while the car was depicted coming to a quite sudden stop when it was reversing out of the dead-end and at the end of the ad, resulting in it rocking noticeably, it was not because it was being driven irresponsibly or at excessive speed. Particularly in the first instance, we considered viewers would understand that the ad was demonstrating the car’s braking ability and safety features. We considered viewers would therefore interpret the key message of the ad to be the way in which the technological and safety features of the car enabled the driver to safely navigate the obstacles encountered. We concluded the ad did not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving.
We investigated ad (a) under BCAP Code rules 20.1 and 20.3 (Motoring), and ad (b) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
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), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.