The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa has ordered Nissan South Africa to withdraw a television advertisement for the Qashqai on the grounds that it “depicts an unsafe behaviour”.

Roy Lorentz lodged a consumer complaint with the ASA against Nissan SA’s television commercial promoting the facelifted Qashqai.

The advert in question, which unfortunately doesn’t appear to be available on YouTube, shows skateboarders taking their skateboards out of the luggage compartment of the Qashqai.

The vehicle then drives off with the skateboarders riding alongside and behind it on what appears to be a public road. The voice-over at the end of the commercial adds: "The new Qashqai, CityProof”.

The complainant submitted that the advert encouraged young people to use skateboards on public roads, which “could lead to tragic consequences”.

Interestingly, Nissan SA responded that prior to production of the commercial, it “engaged with the ASA” regarding the depiction of skateboarders on public roads, eventually resolving to show that the roads were closed off (by including typical road closure elements and signage at the end of the commercial).

The ASA Directorate, however, said that the respondent had not "engaged with the ASA”, but instead received copy advice from the Association for Communication and Advertising.

The watchdog added that Clause 13 of Section II of the code states that advertisements should not without reason, justifiable on educational or social grounds, contain any visual presentation or any description of dangerous practices or of situations that show a disregard for safety. Special care should be taken in advertisements directed towards or depicting children or young people.

In a similar case involving a Toyota Auris advert from 2008, it was held that "while the advertisement depicts an act that is considered to be part of skateboard culture or lifestyle, it shows an unsafe practice and disregard for safety”. The same reasoning, according to the ASA, applied to this latest matter.

The ASA added that the road closure elements and signage cited by Nissan SA appear only at the end of the commercial.

“It is firstly not clear that the entire road has been closed off and that that is the only reason the car and skateboarders are using it. It, in fact, seems that the skateboarders stop when they reach a road closure, not that they are within a closed area,” the ASA said.

“The Directorate is also not convinced, even if it had been clear that the activity was in an enclosed area, that the depicted behaviour would be safe. It still shows skateboarders sharing a road with a car and skating extremely close to the car – an activity that is inherently unsafe.

“In addition, there is nothing in the execution that gives any indication that this is an unsafe activity that should, at best, be undertaken by professionals and carefully. It is portrayed as a fun activity that any group of friends could consider,” the ASA added.

Given that "skateboarding is a popular sport for young people", the Directorate considered that the requirements for a breach of Clause 13 had been met, in that the commercial “depicts an unsafe behaviour and that special care should be taken in relation to the depiction of young people”.

Therefore, the ASA upheld the complaint and ordered that commercial be withdrawn and not “used again in its current format”.