Toyota Australia has claimed a rare victory in the battle to accurately depict high-performance cars in Australian television promotions, with an objection to its GR Yaris Rallye TVC thrown out by Advertising Standards.
As it stands, the current advertising regulation system only requires a single complaint to be upheld by the advertising watchdog for the offending ad to be pulled, resulting in an average of two car commercials deemed in violation of standards each year.
As a case in point, only weeks before the latest complaint, Toyota was ordered to cease screening a separate advert for the same model until a small amount of wheel spin had been edited out of the final cut.
But, in the most recent case, the regulator has unusually ruled in the favour of the manufacturer, allowing the ad to continue screening on televisions unchanged and as Toyota intended.
The 30-second ad in question shows the homologation-special Gazoo Racing Yaris cutting some dusty laps of a paddock before turning onto a country road and departing. The ad also includes disclaimers and the use of safety equipment.
But In a tirade of sensationalist hyperbole and misinformed conjecture that has become typical with this type of objection, the complainant not only requested that the advert be banned, but that Toyota should be slapped with a hefty fine for the heinous crime of accurately representing the features of a car.
“Such penalties should be in the order of double equivalent prime time TV advertisements for road safety advertising,” it said.
The anonymous (but likely serial) complainant went on to claim “The scenes showed the vehicle driving far too fast on highway, hilly terraine [sic], dirt roads. This type of driving doesn't make legends it makes dead people,” it said of a car being piloted by the current Australian Rally champion, Harry Bates.
But despite the ranty and officious objection, Ad Standards was satisfied that Toyota had been responsible and diligent in the creation of the GR Yaris Rallye promotion, and the advert did not violate any of the FCAI advertising codes relating to unsafe driving, breaking the speed limit and motorsport.
“The Panel considered that most members of the community would consider that these scenes are not a depiction which encourages or condones unsafe driving and did not breach section 2(a) of the FCAI Code,” it said.
“… there is no indication that any vehicle was exceeding the speed limit and in breach of the law … the scenes depicting motor sport were clearly identifiable as such and all drivers and vehicles were clearly identified in racing livery.
“Finding that the advertisement did not breach Clause 2(a), 2(b) or Clause 3 of the FCAI Code or any other section of the FCAI Code, the Panel dismissed the complaints”.
While the ruling is a milestone victory for car manufacturers and a welcome result, it highlights some inconsistencies in the complaints procedure and standards.
Previous outlawed advertisements include Ford’s Ranger raptor promo in which the dual-cab performed a jump in a remote desert environment, and the Bentley Continental advert that was filmed on unlimited-speed roads, closed to the public and with an experienced racer at the wheel.
Oh, and let’s not forget the even more ridiculous ruling to pull the Volkswagen Amarok advert in which the German brand actually satirically poked fun at the incredibly strict standards by using a toy Amarok to show any sensitive action.
Which raises questions as to why Ad Standards was satisfied with Toyota’s measures in the production of the most recent GR Yaris ad, but not with a larger number of previous promotions that appear to have gone to the same responsible lengths.
Either way, the result will no doubt infuriate the Pedestrian Council of Australia which is a vocal objector to many of Australia’s car advertisements and TV promotions.
To relish the full erroneous complaint and Toyota’s response, you’ll find the full case report here.