A TV ad for Audi, seen between 6 and 8 June, promoted the R8 model. The ad began by showing a close-up, slow motion shot of a vehicle drifting and spinning inside a film studio. The ad then cut to a birds-eye view of the vehicle which was revealed to be performing a 'doughnut' manoeuvre, which left a circular tyre track with smoke coming out of the tyres. The circular tyre track then gradually formed the Audi logo with on-screen text that stated "Speed isn't everything".
Four complainants challenged whether the ad condoned irresponsible and dangerous driving.
Volkswagen Group UK Ltd t/a Audi stated that the central message of the ad was "Speed isn't everything", as spelled out in the closing strapline. They were seeking to convey the beauty of the design and poise of the R8 model in a simple and creative manner, with the focus on the design and engineering of the model.
Audi said the depiction of the R8 in the ad was heavily stylised and the tone was graceful. The ad was created entirely in slow motion and the music, with which the movement of the car and the camera was closely aligned, was very prominent in the edit. The shooting of the ad took place on a private closed set and was therefore shown in a context-free environment, and it bore no resemblance to public roads or an environment in which the R8 would actually be driven by consumers. They also stated that a precision driver was used and the car was in full control throughout all manoeuvres, at a speed between 10 and 30 mph. The floor of the set was treated to minimise tyre smoke as far as possible, so as not to create an impression of aggression; they pointed out that most of the 'smoke' rising from the studio floor was in fact dust. They also pointed out that the ad did not include the wheel screech or aggressive engine sounds which would be associated with the 'doughnuting' stunt; the music added to the atmosphere of reflection and calm.
Clearcast explained that the script for the ad had been considered at the highest level at their Policy and Copy Meeting team. They believed that the final version of the ad was compliant, as there was no demonstration of either speed or power. The action of the car was shown in a balletic manner which was underlined by the lack of car sounds or tyre screeching, and the melodic soundtrack. They also ensured the action in the ad was shown away from a public highway and on a closed, abstract set.
Clearcast further stated that the ad was not about speed or how consumers should drive the R8 model. The ad related to the precision and balance of the model.That message was reinforced by the tagline "Speed isn't everything", which they believed would be the take out of the vast majority of viewers.
The ASA noted that a large portion of the ad showed slow motion and close-up shots of the rear, body and the front of the R8. Although the R8 was seen to be drifting and turning during that part of the ad, we noted that it was not apparent that it was carrying out a 'doughnut' manoeuvre until the aerial shot in the end, at which point the 'doughnuting' had ceased. We considered that the sustained use of slow motion shots throughout the ad, rather than images of the vehicle moving in real time, created a composed and controlled feel to the ad, instead of one of excitement or aggression. We also considered that the close-up shots on specific parts of the vehicle, in combination with the closing statement "Speed isn't everything", shifted the focus of the ad on to the vehicle design.
We also noted that, although the ad mainly concentrated on specific parts of the vehicle, it was clear that the ad had been shot within a studio. As the setting shown did not represent or resemble realistic driving conditions, we considered that viewers were likely to recognise that the ad was not a demonstration of the vehicle's handling characteristics in normal driving conditions. We further noted that no vehicle sounds, such as engine or tyre noises were heard during the ad. Instead, the soundtrack consisted of strings and a vocal, which we considered contributed to the overall serene tone of the ad.
Although the 'doughnut' manoeuvre could be dangerous if conducted under normal driving conditions or without appropriate supervision, we noted that the R8 was only shown to be carrying out the 'doughnut' manoeuvre briefly at the end of the ad. In combination with the soundtrack, the slow motion close-up shots, the setting and the closing on-screen text "Speed isn't everything", we considered that the ad focused on, and showcased, the aesthetics of the vehicle design, rather than demonstrating the power or handling capabilities of the R8. On that basis, we concluded that the ad did not condone irresponsible or dangerous driving.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 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. and 20.3 20.3 Motoring advertisements must not demonstrate power, acceleration or handling characteristics except in a clear context of safety. Reference to those characteristics must not suggest excitement, aggression or competitiveness. (Motoring), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.