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AUSTRALIA’S advertising watchdog, Ad Standards, has forced Toyota Australia to pull its TV ad for the new Yaris range, stating it displays dangerous driving in breach of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Voluntary Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising.

Under the code, OEMs and their representatives must not show advertisements that have scenes of unsafe driving that would breach any commonwealth, state or territory law in which the ad is published.

The Toyota Yaris TVC’s allegedly dangerous scene is where an all-wheel-drive Yaris GR is driven at speed out of a farm shed on a dirt surface, spraying dust.

Ad Standards’ community panel ruled that the back tyres of the car appeared to lose traction as it is driven out of the shed and that breached Australian road rules.

Media publication Mumbrella, reporting on the withdrawal of the ad, said the road rules state that “a driver must not drive a vehicle unless the driver has proper control of the vehicle” and therefore the ad breaches the FCAI code.

Ad Standards (AS) did not publicly comment that the scene was performed on a farm and not on a public road.

Toyota’s ad covers the new Yaris range, including the GR sports hatch and the Yaris Cross SUV. It centres on three siblings individually rushing to meet up for their parent’s anniversary.

The complaint came before AS on concerns it promoted speeding as the siblings hurried to their parent’s house.

AS said that the speeding aspect also breached the FCAI code that dictates that advertisements must not portray people driving at speeds in excess of speed limits in the jurisdiction in Australia in which the ad is published.

Mumbrella reported that the AS panel considered that the drivers “did not appear to drive in a manner in excess of speed limits, despite the impression of speed given by the dust stirred up by the man’s vehicle.”

“And despite the theme of being late to an event giving a sense of speed, there was no indication that any vehicle was exceeding the speed limit, including a lack of clear indication of what the speed limits on the roads depicted were,” Mumbrella said.

“Therefore, the panel dismissed concerns of the speed, but upheld the complaint due to the depiction of dangerous driving.”

Toyota Australia responded to a request for comment from GoAutoNews Premium. It said that it “accepts the decision made by Ad Standards surrounding the Yaris TVC, and has removed it from air to amend for potential future use.

“We understand Ad Standards have requirements that must be met, and we aim to operate within these guidelines. Safety is very important to us.”

In the past six months, AS has dismissed numerous complaints with motor vehicle advertising and has upheld relatively few.

One complaint against an ad for BMW made six months ago was upheld. The ad ran from May 9 to May 31, 2020.

It included four seconds showing a young man riding a skateboard along the centre of a road without a helmet.

A minority of the AS panel agreed the ad was stylised to create a sense of freedom and anticipation – and came with a disclaimer – and said the image of the skateboarder would not be interpreted as promoting unsafe behaviour.

Australian road rules do not require skateboarders to wear a helmet but the law would have been breached by the rider for skateboarding in the middle of the road.

But the majority of the AS panel determined the combination of the two would breach “prevailing community standards on health and safety and upheld the complaint the ad received on the issue”.

The complainant said the ad would encourage copycat behaviour amongst children and young people.

BMW argued that “whilst the road depicted in the advertisement has a dividing line, the skateboarder depicted in the advertisement has a clear line of sight for the road ahead and is not skateboarding around a blind corner or over a horizon”.

BMW also pointed out that the offending scene was accompanied by a disclaimer that said it was filmed under controlled conditions.

Considering the ad gave the impression that riding a skateboard in the middle of the road was a positive experience and may encourage young people to imitate it, the panel upheld the complaint.

By Neil Dowling

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