Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
Three ads for Suzuki, seen in January 2018, promoted the Ignis, Swift and Vitara models:
a. A TV ad opened with two people running towards a dodgems ride at a fairground. People were shown getting into Suzuki cars, paying a character that was in charge of the ride and then driving around the dodgems track. Two cars appeared to be racing each other. A boy glanced over at another car with an oversized teddy bear in the passenger seat. A man appeared to perform a handbrake turn. A woman glanced backward as another car came up behind her. A baby was shown sitting in the back of one of a car driven by a couple. The driver of the car then performed a "doughnut" manoeuvre. The man in charge of the ride whistled and shouted at them and looked displeased as the couple drove off. He then climbed onto the back of a car going around the track. A wide shot of the track showed all six cars stopping and the passengers getting out. Text that appeared on screen stated, "Enjoy the ride".
b. A TV ad was a shorter version of ad (a). It opened with a driver paying the character in charge of the ride. People were then shown driving around the dodgems track. A woman glanced backward as another car came up behind her. A man appeared to perform a handbrake turn. A baby was shown sitting in the back of one of a car driven by a couple. The driver of the car then performed a "doughnut" manoeuvre. The man in charge of the ride climbed onto the back of a car going around the track. A wide shot of the track showed all six cars stopping and the passengers getting out. Text that appeared on screen stated, "Enjoy the ride".
c. A Video On Demand (VOD) ad, seen on All4, was identical to ad (a).
The ASA received 35 complaints:
1. The majority of the viewers challenged the TV ads; and
2. several viewers challenged the VOD ad
on whether the ads were irresponsible because they condoned or encouraged dangerous or irresponsible driving behaviour prejudicial to safety.
1. & 2. Suzuki GB plc (Suzuki) said they had created a surreal and fantastical ad which took place in a dreamlike world. They did not believe that the average consumer would think that the ads showed a real-life situation that condoned or encouraged irresponsible attitudes to driving. The vast majority of the scenes in the ad were impossible to emulate in real-life circumstances. To the extent that any capabilities of the vehicles were shown in the ad, they were clearly shown in a closed and self-contained environment, and it was very obvious that the cars were not on public highways.
The opening shot of the ad established a brightly illuminated funfair, and people were shown running towards a dodgems ride holding large stuffed toys. Instead of the usual dodgems cars, the ride featured various Suzuki cars, and the rest of the action took place within the closed environment of the ride. As the ride was powered up, it became apparent that the cars were tethered to the power grid above them by an invisible connection. The cars took on the movements of dodgems, performing sharp turns, stopping and starting and dodging one another. Suzuki stated that none of the cars bumped into each other at any time and all the riders wore seatbelts throughout. At one point, a boy stared at an oversized teddy bear in the passenger seat of a nearby car and the bear rotated its head to follow the boy’s gaze. This further underscored that the scene was dreamlike and fantastical.
A man was shown putting a car in reverse, checking his surroundings and other cars were seen in the rear view camera. Suzuki said this was a way of showing off this driver aid on a closed track that was far removed from a public highway. Another car was shown doing doughnuts on the spot, which was an impossible feat for a car, but not a dodgem. Bursts of dry ice further gave the impression of a fairground ride. A young child in the backseat was shown as captivated by the colourful lights but otherwise unfazed. The driver of the car was told off by the man in charge of the ride and immediately came to a complete stop. The dodgem ride worker was shown jumping on the back of one of the cars to hitch a ride, which they said was reflective of what was permissible on a dodgem fairground ride.
Suzuki believed that, given the context of the ad, the action frames would not be understood as real-life action sequences, and that the ad did not breach the CAP Code.
Clearcast considered the ad not to have depicted a realistic driving treatment, as thecars were shown on a fairground-themed set that was removed from how a motorist would drive day-to-day. However, they had advised the advertiser that the demonstration of the vehicle’s capabilities in this surreal context should be carefully balanced with good driving practice and regard for safety measures. They stated that seatbelts were worn throughout the ad and that the baby was seated in the appropriate car seat. Clearcast considered that the scenes in which a fairground worker hung onto the back of the car and a car performed the doughnut manoeuvre were appropriate in the dodgems context; Clearcast considered that these acts were not presented as things that should be emulated in a real-life driving setting.
Channel Four stated that the broadcast version of ad (c) had been cleared by Clearcast with no restrictions, and they had also received advice from Clearcast that it complied with the relevant rules for VOD ads.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA noted that ads (a) and (c) opened with a wide shot of a fairground, with characters shown running towards a ride with an illuminated sign stating “DODGEMS”. Ad (b) opened with a man seated in a car paying the fairground ride attendant. In both ads, the cars were shown driving around a relatively small, enclosed track, connected to a sparking overhead power grid reminiscent of a dodgems ride. The scene in which the man in charge of the ride stood on the back of one of the cars was also recognizable as behaviour that was associated with this type of ride. The bright colours and flashing lights used throughout the ads served to further emphasise the fairground atmosphere. We considered that viewers would understand that the ad depicted the various Suzuki car models in the fantastical context of a dodgems ride. While we noted that some of the driving manoeuvres featured would be dangerous and irresponsible if performed on a public highway, given the overall tone and context of the scenes depicted, it was clear that the ads did not portray a real-life driving situation. We considered that viewers would not take the ad literally or be encouraged to imitate the actions shown. We therefore concluded that the ad did not condone or encourage dangerous or irresponsible driving behaviour prejudicial to safety.
Ads (a) and (b) were investigated under BCAP Code rule 20.1 20.1 Advertisements must not condone or encourage dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving or motorcycling. Advertisements must not suggest that driving or motorcycling safely is staid or boring. (Motoring), but were not found in breach.
Ad (c) was investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 19.2 19.2 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. (Motoring) and 30.6 30.6 Advertising must not encourage behaviour prejudicial to health or safety. (Appendix 2 - Advertising rules for on-demand services regulated by statute), but was not found in breach.
No further action required.