Volkswagen Polo advert banned for ‘encouraging irresponsible driving’

Advert showing an accident-prone driver being saved by the Polo’s safety systems has been banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Agency (Volkswagen advert banned).

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has banned a Volkswagen Polo television advertisement for encouraging irresponsible driving, which represents a breach of the industry watchdog’s code.

Six complaints were filed about the advert, alleging that the advert encourages dangerous driving and exaggerated the benefits of the safety systems being showcased. The ASA upheld the complaints, and ruled that the ad must not appear in its current form.

The ad breached rules 20.1 and 20.5 of the ASA’s code, which assert “Advertisements must not condone or encourage dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving or motorcycling,” and “Motoring advertisements must not exaggerate the benefits of safety features to consumers.”

Multiple factors led to the decision, said the ASA, including the nervous disposition of the passenger in the featured car, and the “loud indie rock soundtrack”, which “contributed to the impression that the driver was irresponsible”.

In defence of its advert, Volkswagen said that the car was not driven in a dangerous way, and that no dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving was condoned. Instead, Volkswagen said, the clumsy driver in the advert had passed his test but was inexperienced, hence his father’s nervous reactions.

“We concluded that the dependency on the advanced safety systems exaggerated the vehicle’s safety features and the overall tone of the advert encouraged irresponsible driving and was in breach of the code,” said the ASA.

The ASA previously banned an advert issued by BMW about the M760Li xDrive which allegedly making speed the focus of the advert. The M760Li is the fastest-accelerating car in BMW’s history, taking 3.7sec to reach 62mph.

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