A TV ad for a car-racing video game featured two men driving golf carts pulling up next to each other. The men looked at each other menacingly, pulled their gloves up and started revving the engines. In the next scene, two men driving forklift trucks in a warehouse were seen doing the same thing. This was followed by a close-up of a man's hand putting a vehicle into gear quickly and a foot rapidly depressing the accelerator pedal. In another scene two racing drivers in their cars were seen at the start of a race. A voice-over stated, "Drive anywhere, against anyone. Every corner, every smash, every spin. Over 30 tracks, 1,200 cars. The world is your track." The latter part of the ad was comprised of footage representative of the game itself.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and harmful because he believed the scene featuring the forklift drivers about to race was likely to condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.
Investigated under BCAP Code rule 1.2 (Social Responsibility) and 4.4 (Harm & Offence).
Sony Computer Entertainment Ltd (Sony) stated that, mindful of the need to reflect the competitive aspect of the racing game without condoning or encouraging anti-social behaviour, they had not depicted any racing outside of the game footage, and that the lack of racing in the real-world introduction was intended to be notable by its absence. They stated that this approach avoided elements such as revving and tyre spinning, and that the inclusion of golfers and forklift truck drivers indicated that the game could be enjoyed by motor enthusiasts of all types.
Sony noted that the specific sequence featuring the forklift truck drivers constituted fewer than five seconds out of the entire commercial. They stated that it showed the drivers, who were wearing full safety gear, stopping and remaining in a fixed, stationary position. They said that the operators were never out of control of the vehicle and that the depicted behaviour did not endanger themselves or others. Sony said that there was no 'boy racer' revving of engines or smoke coming from the exhausts, and that no unsafe driving or racing was depicted. They stated their belief that the representation of the forklift truck drivers would not induce viewers to change the way they would drive a forklift truck.
Sony said that they had carefully designed the sound of the ad to provide a contrast between the real life and game footage sections; they used only the standard sounds of factories and golf courses at the start of the ad before cutting to more exciting sounds over the racing car footage. They stated that the voice-over, "Drive anywhere, against anyone" was only used over the game footage and not the live action sequences, and that it was a reference to the game's inclusion of a large number of well-known racing tracks.
Sony said that they intended the ad to be fun, up-beat and humorous, and that this was the context within which the forklift truck drivers were depicted. They stated their belief that the ad would be viewed in this light, and not as an endorsement of operating forklift trucks irresponsibly or in a 'boy racer', dangerous or unsafe manner. They also stated that it was reasonable to expect any forklift truck operator to rely on health and safety guidance, rather than a TV ad.
Clearcast, who said that they endorsed Sony's response, said that the ad was approved on the basis that the forklift truck scene was very brief, that no racing was actually undertaken and that the behaviour in the ad could not be emulated by viewers in general. They said that the scene consisted of a look between the workers before the ad cut away to game footage. They considered that there was no suggestion that the forklift truck drivers were racing, and that they could have reasonably laughed off their 'competitiveness' and gone about their work in their usual and safe way. Clearcast stated that the ad was clearly light-hearted and showed the anticipation of racing in an unusual and comedic way, given the slow and cumbersome nature of the vehicles involved. They stated they were confident that licensed forklift truck drivers would not behave in a way that would harm themselves or others and that their behaviour would not change as a result of viewing the ad. As such, they did not consider that the ad was irresponsible or that it condoned behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.
We acknowledged that the forklift operators were presented in a way that parodied the competitive spirit of racing drivers at the beginning of a race, and that after exchanging glances a foot was seen pressing down on the pedal of one of the trucks. However, we noted that no actual racing between the operators was depicted. Although a foot was seen pressing down on a pedal, it was not clear whether this was because the trucks were racing or because the men were moving to carry on with their work. We considered that the situations in the ad were presented as being light-hearted scenarios, and regarded as such by viewers. Moreover, we considered that those with access to forklift trucks were likely to be aware of the necessity for safety measures and that viewing the ad would not encourage them to act in a way that conflicted with their existing knowledge about how to use the trucks safely. Because the ad did not depict the forklift trucks being used to race and because we did not consider that operators would be unduly influenced by the ad we concluded that the ad was not irresponsible and did not condone or encourage behaviour prejudicial to health and safety.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Social Responsibility) and 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm & Offence), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.