Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Toyota TV ad featuring people dancing and
singing to a Bruno Mars track while at the
wheel negotiating the streets of a city has
been banned by the Advertising Standards
Authority for condoning dangerous driving.
The ad by Saatchi & Saatchi, which appeared
on TV, ITV Player and YouTube, received 74
complaints that it was irresponsible.
The 30-second spot was promoting the Yaris
Hybrid and depicted various people and their
passengers singing and dancing along to
Bruno Mars’s ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’ while
driving around the city streets of Prague.
At one point a female driver is so
enthusiastically belting out the song that her
eyes appear to close.
Midway through the 30-second spot, on-
screen text states, “The difference between
driving and driving happy”, while a voiceover
at the end says, “Fall in love with driving
again with the New Yaris Hybrid”.
In its defence, Toyota said the road signs
had been changed and the streets were
devoid of normal levels of traffic and
pedestrian activity, so the ad did not depict
normal driving circumstances.
As the Yaris is a small car, Toyota argued, its
ability to drive around relatively narrow roads
was an important message. The firm also
said the car adhered to the speed limit and
its low speed was apparent in the ad.
While it admitted that the ad showed the
people in the car having a good time while
driving, acknowledging that some drivers
removed a hand from the steering wheel to
gesticulate to the music, at no point did
anyone remove both hands from the wheel.
Toyota added that removing one hand from
the wheel was also perfectly legal, and that
in its opinion, the woman did not close her
eyes while driving.
But the ASA considered that while other road
users and pedestrians in the ad were clearly
at a minimum, “viewers would believe that
the ad was set on real urban roads and
reflected real-life driving conditions”.
The ASA said that while it did not consider
“enjoying and moving around to music in a
car was necessarily irresponsible, we had
concerns that some of the drivers were not
shown paying due attention to the road, and
instead appeared to be easily distracted by
their passengers and the music”.
The watchdog said the woman in the ad’s
final scene had her eyes closed briefly while
singing along and “therefore was not
concentrating on the road, or any obstacles
that could appear at a moment’s notice”.
The ASA considered that because some of
the featured drivers were not shown paying
attention to the road, the ad condoned and
encouraged dangerous driving, and was
therefore irresponsible.
Toyota was told that it could not run the ad
again in its current form and that it should
ensure that its future marketing does not
encourage dangerous driving.

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