[SMK] Social Media Knowledge


BMW Ad “Promoted Street/Drag Racing” – ASB

The Advertising Standards Board has upheld a complaint against a BMW ad for the BMW i3. The ad was shown on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

What happened?

The complaint alleged the ad promoted illegal street racing. The ad shows a BMW i3 pulling up at traffic lights next to an older-style red sedan.

The drivers glance at each other, and when the lights change to green, both cars accelerate heavily. The back end of the red car fishtails slightly, tyres smoking.

The i3 accelerates quickly, with the onscreen message “0-100 in 6.9 seconds”.

BMW’s response

BMW argued the purpose of showing the i3 next to an older car was to signify that the new electric car is as powerful as an older vehicle.

Further, the smoke rising from the older car’s tyres was a “haze … caused by the natural motion of the old-fashioned vehicle accelerating, but is not excessive”.

The ASB’s decision

Motor vehicle advertising must comply with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Advertising for Motor Vehicles Voluntary Code of Practice. The Board found that:

·       the glance between the drivers prior to the lights changing appeared to be a challenge; and

·       the reference to “0-100 in 6.9 seconds” gave the impression of speed. 

The Board noted the Code states that advertisers must avoid “drawing attention to the acceleration or speed capabilities of a vehicle.”

Unsurprisingly, the Board upheld the complaint.  

The takeout

The Board’s decision follows recent determinations involving Delta Goodrem travelling with her head and arm outside a vehicle and a Lexus LC shown rapidly accelerating.

Motor vehicle ads are incredibly expensive to produce. Advertisers must ensure their ads conform to relevant industry codes or risk having them banned by the advertising watchdog – and losing money to boot. 

David Kelly is the founder of KHQ Approved, which offers fixed fee solutions across a range of areas (including marketing law and contract review).  Peace of mind from an experienced team for a reasonable price.

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