A tweet from the Alpine Cars UK Twitter account, seen on 8 March 2017. Text in the tweet stated, "Mountains and twisted roads: The #AlpineA110 in it's [sic] favorite [sic] playground". A video was embedded in the tweet. Text at the start of the video stated, "Filmed on closed road at col de Turini ... Nicolas Lapierre / Signatech-Alpine driver 24h Le Mans winner, 2016 FIA WEC LMP2 world champion". A car was shown driving along a mountain road; snow was piled up on the sides of the road. The car was shown accelerating, braking and taking corners. One shot included the car skidding round a corner.
The complainant, who believed the ad glamourised and promoted dangerous driving, challenged whether it was irresponsible.
Renault UK Ltd t/a Alpine UK said the objective of the ad was to showcase the car’s behaviour. The focus was not on speed but about mastering the driving on curvy roads, and demonstrating agility and handling.
Because the car was a prototype, the speed had been limited to ensure it did not exceed 90 km/h (around 56 mph). They said that, during the shooting, they were fully compliant with legal constraints. The ad had been filmed on a closed road, with a professional driver, and shot under the supervision of the Monaco Automobile Club, which provided security guards and ensured the road was closed. No other cars or people were able to access the road. They had stated that the driver was a WEC Competition Winner to emphasise that he was very experienced.
They apologised if the warning had not been considered obvious enough and were happy to amend the ad or add any necessary comments at the beginning and/or in the post such as stating that the professional driving behaviour shown should not be tried in anyway by viewers.
The CAP Code stated that marketing communications must not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving. Also, marketers must not make speed or acceleration the main message of their marketing communications. Particular care must be taken in such communications that appeared in electronic media to avoid moving images that implied excessive speed.
The ASA noted that the ad stated that the road was closed, and that the name of the driver was given, with information that he was a world champion and Le Mans winning driver. Nevertheless, we noted several aspects of the ad which demonstrated speed and/or acceleration, and driving which would be dangerous if emulated.
The car was shown driving on a winding mountainous road, which had snow piled up on each side. Throughout the ad, engine noise and rising revs were emphasised, indicating hard acceleration and sharp braking, including while cornering. In several scenes the car was shown braking as it entered sharp corners and accelerating away quickly.
There were also shots where the car was shown skidding as it took a corner. One in particular showed an aerial shot of the car taking a very tight corner, in which there appeared to be snow on the road as well as piled up to the sides. The car skidded as it turned, and we considered that would be a dangerous manoeuvre for viewers to emulate.
There was a slow motion shot, which was followed by another at normal speed, of the car accelerating and driving at what appeared to be at high speed, accompanied by the sound of acceleration and the screech of tyres. We considered the contrast gave the impression that the car was being driven at considerable speed, and placed particular emphasis on that speed.
For those reasons, we considered that speed and acceleration were the main messages of the ad, that parts of the ad implied excessive speed, and that the ad encouraged and condoned irresponsible and potentially dangerous driving.
We acknowledged Alpine UK's willingness to make amendments to the ad. However, we did not consider that any additional information included with the ad would be sufficient to avoid the it breaching the Code.
The ad breached 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. and 19.4 19.4 Marketers must not make speed or acceleration the main message of their marketing communications. Marketing communications may give general information about a vehicle's performance, such as acceleration and mid-range statistics, braking power, road-holding and top speed. (Motoring).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Renault UK Ltd to ensure future ads did not encourage dangerous or irresponsible driving, or make speed or acceleration their main message.