Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A TV ad for Nissan, seen on 19 May 2018. The ad showed a car driving down the motorway. One of the passengers in the car appeared to check their watch. A sign above the car stated “AIRPORT DENSE TRAFFIC”. The car then veered into the left-hand lane before taking a hard left around a corner into an airport. A man then appeared in front of the car before the car stopped as text on screen stated “Intelligent Emergency Braking”. The car then carried on its journey and a man’s voice stated, “When you have the right technologies you will always find a way”.
The complaint challenged whether the ad:
1. encouraged dangerous driving by exaggerating the benefit of the vehicle’s safety features; and
2. condoned irresponsible driving by showing the car being driven at excessive speeds.
1. Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd t/a Nissan said the purpose of the ad was to demonstrate the Nissan Micra’s intelligent technology and safety features. They said the benefit of the Micra’s safety feature was not exaggerated and the driver was at all times driving within the applicable speed limits.
Nissan said the Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB) with the Pedestrian Recognition safety feature used a radar sensor and a camera installed behind the windscreen to detect pedestrians and sense distance. If a risk of collision was imminent, and the driver did not act, the safety system automatically applied the brakes assisting the driver to bring the vehicle to a complete standstill. They said there was nothing in the ad to suggest that the IEB with the Pedestrian Recognition safety feature operated outside of its limits between 6 and 37 mph.
Nissan said in the scene where the pedestrian stepped across in front of the car, the driver immediately recognised the hazard and the Micra was shown stopping firmly and deliberately at a very safe distance from the pedestrian. They said that for the purposes of transparency, they included a disclaimer that stated “Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Recognition limited between 6mph and 37mph. Driving conditions apply.”
Nissan said that having to react to people crossing unexpectedly was not an unusual or unrealistic scenario and the ad demonstrated the IEB would assist when a car was driven at 25 km/h (16 mph).
Clearcast said that the car did not look like it was speeding, and that because it was driving between aircraft hangars in an airport, its view was reduced. They said that when the baggage handler appeared, the IEB technology assisted the driver by braking in time to avoid a collision. They said additional superimposed text was used to highlight the limitations of the technology. Clearcast said the ad acceptably demonstrated the technology and did not condone reckless driving.
2. Nissan said that the Micra was not shown driving at excessive speed. They said the ad started with a scene which showed a man driving the Micra down the motorway within the speed limit. Immediately after that a sign stating “AIRPORT DENSE TRAFFIC” appeared and to avoid the traffic the Nissan Micra turned into the left-hand lane before taking the exit. They said the driver was at all times driving within the applicable speed limits.
Clearcast said they agreed that the car wasn’t speeding and the driver was giving due care and attention to the road. Using very quick edits, they said the ad depicted a traffic jam that could be avoided using the Micra’s in-built navigation system. They said the driver clearly indicated, that there were no rash actions taken without mirrors, that there were no other cars on the inside lanes and that they didn’t feel that the ad portrayed reckless driving or condoned speeding.
The BCAP Code stated that motoring advertisements must not exaggerate the benefit of safety features to consumers or suggest that a vehicle's features enable it to be driven or ridden faster or in complete safety. The ASA noted that the opening sequence of the ad showed one of the passengers looking at her watch suggesting they were in a rush. We considered that the traffic sign which stated “AIRPORT DENSE TRAFFIC”, the electronic music that gradually became louder and faster, and the sound of the car increasing its revs strengthened the impression that the characters were in a rush. As the car came off the motorway, a noise was made that sounded like an engine re-revving. The car also did not seem to have moved from a stationary position in the road or to have slowed down as it came off the road and headed into the airport.
We noted the ad then depicted one near miss incident in which a worker appeared from around the corner of a building, subsequently activating the car’s braking safety feature. As the brake was activated, both the passenger and driver were swung forward in the vehicle as if making an emergency stop. At the same time the music, which had been building, stopped as well.
We considered that the combination of all these elements created the impression that the driver was able to navigate at speed in a rushed or distracted manner and ultimately could rely on the Micra’s braking system intervening to help prevent a collision. We also considered that in the context of the ad the voice which said, “When you have the right technologies, you will always find a way” implied that the Micra’s braking system allowed consumers to drive faster and more recklessly.
We noted Nissan’s explanation as to how their IEB with the Pedestrian Recognition safety feature worked and that small on screen text stated that the Emergency Braking system was limited between 6mph and 37mph. However, we did not consider that qualification altered the overriding impression in the ad that the brake technology was capable of preventing a collision caused by fast, irresponsible driving at speeds greater than 37mph. For those reasons we concluded the ad breached the BCAP Code.
On that point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 20.1 and 20.5 (Motoring).
We noted that at the beginning of the ad the car was being driven at a steady speed. As the sign appeared that said “HEAVY TRAFFIC AHEAD” the car could audibly be heard revving before it drove across two lanes of traffic. As it pulled off the motorway the engine could be heard revving again. It did not seem as if the car had slowed down to come off the intersection of the road near the airport.
We noted Nissan’s explanation that the car was at all times driving within the applicable speed limits, but we saw no indication in the ad as to what those limits were or whether the car adhered to them. We considered the ad implied the character had increased the speed of the vehicle because they were in a rush, which might encourage irresponsible and dangerous driving. For those reasons we considered the ad breached the BCAP Code.
On that point the ad breached BCAP Code rule 20.1 (Motoring).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Nissan not to encourage dangerous driving by exaggeration of its safety features or depict driving at excessive speeds which could encourage irresponsible or dangerous driving.