The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the United Kingdom has banned a television advert promoting the Volkswagen Polo, ruling that it "encouraged irresponsible driving".
Six complainants approached the advertising watchdog, claiming that the commercial – which first hit UK screens back in February 2018 – exaggerated the benefits of the vehicle’s safety features.
The advert, which you can view below, shows a mishap-prone boy at various stages of his life, constantly being rescued by his nervous father. As an adult, he is depicted driving on a dual carriageway with his dad in the passenger seat, who appears to be extra-anxious.
The young driver is then seemingly prevented from having a collision with a truck by the Polo's (optional) blind spot detection system, before the autonomous emergency braking feature prevents him from running down a pedestrian.
VW’s UK arm argued that the car was “not shown to be driven dangerously and there was nothing that condoned or encouraged dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving”. The purpose of the ad, said the German brand, was to “promote safe and responsible driving and to highlight how the car’s Advanced Safety Systems could help drivers to manage certain hazards in safety”.
The ASA, however, ruled against Volkswagen, saying that the advert “implied that there was a reliance on the safety features” of the Polo.
“We concluded that the dependency on the Advanced Safety Systems exaggerated the vehicle’s safety features and the overall tone of the ad encouraged irresponsible driving,” the ASA said, ordering VW to pull the advert from television.
Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.