There have been worse times to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From the depths of an ugly war that waged in the mid-1990s, the south-eastern corner of Europe is bouncing back to a period of growth and relative prosperity, fuelled by manufacturing and exports. While unemployment and a large trade deficit remain less than ideal, B&H’s GDP has recovered to a respectable $24bn.
That’s serious cash, but if like me, you are having trouble getting your head around just how many pineapples that is, allow me to put it into context. $24bn is exactly how much Australian gamblers lost last year.
Just let that sink in for moment.
Some reports say as many as one Australian suicide per day is attributed to gambling – a horrid and grim statistic to digest but, as a menace to society, pokies and casinos are categorically upstaged by alcohol.
400 deaths each year might be tied to gambling, but that’s the same number of people admitted to hospital every day in Australia for alcohol-related illness and injury. Of those 146,000 unfortunate individuals, 6000 per year will die from the evil drink.
And yet, it is not another gambling advert that the Advertising Standards Bureau has banned this week. Nor is it an advert for an alcoholic drink.
No. In its wisdom, the band of eight joyless adjudicators holed up in a Canberra bunker decided that a TVC for the Ford Ranger Raptor is so socially toxic that we are not allowed to see it. The ASB believes our self control is so poor that, upon watching this ad, we will leap into our five-year old Corollas and emulate the stunts in the ad.
Of course, you could argue that the roughly 1200 deaths on our roads each year are equally unacceptable and no one wants advertising that potentially exacerbates the problems. But what is questionable is Ad Standard’s consistency when it comes to deciding what’s acceptable for any advert (regardless of the product) and what is not.
If you haven’t seen the Ford advertisement in question – then click the link in our gallery above. It shows the current flagship of the Ranger line-up emerging from a shed in what appears to a be a location so remote you’re more likely to see Martians than humans, and proceeds to do what the Raptor does best – devour dirt like it’s car cocaine.
Showing the Raptor in any other light would be like filming an ice pick advert in Abu Dhabi.
But “The speed that the vehicle is seen travelling down the dirt road, dramatised by the sound of the engine and filming techniques, appeared reckless,” said Ad Standards. “The panel considered the speed of the vehicle appeared unsafe when the vehicle became airborne”.
Firstly, anyone who watches the Raptor ad and thinks it is okay to conduct those kind of aerobatics on public roads will have already lost their licence. But no one will because it is clearly shot on the surface of Mars.
And even if you did need reminding that you should not try this at home, Ford includes a disclaimer informing particularly stupid people that the driver is a professional and the dirt that he is turning into powder and occasionally flying above is private.
More so, if it wasn’t piloted by an expert, the Raptor’s chassis is so capable that it can perform its airborne party piece with a complete buffoon at the wheel – the local press launch proved that quite nicely.
All of which, Ad Standards completely ignored.
Even more perplexing than the ruling is the manner in which an investigation is initiated. Under the current arrangement, all it takes is one complaint from a single meddling do-gooder for the organisation to ban an advert.
This time, one objector – and we’re not sure if it was time-rich, going-slowly enthusiast Harold Scruby – sited ‘ultra-fast acceleration’ as a cause for concern. Clearly the complainant didn’t ask Google for the Raptor’s claimed zero-to-100km/h time, because if they had they would have got the answer 10.5 seconds – ultra-slow.
Apparently ‘revving engine sounds’ troubled another curtain-twitching keyboard warrior. Also listed was the frequently mentioned but rarely contextualised ‘speed’.
But all of these are relative moot points. The key issue here is that Ad Standards is suggesting the general public should not be shown anything mildly irresponsible for fear of individuals going out and doing the same and potentially harming themselves.
If that’s the case then I shouldn’t be allowed to watch adverts about burgers because they will make me fat and then I’ll die. I shouldn’t be able to switch on the telly and watch an advert about Queensland because I might want to go there where the sun will give me cancer and when I try to cool off the sea life will kill me before the melanoma has a chance.
It is not the job of Ad Standards to protect us from ourselves. If someone watches a car advert and decides to go out and recreate the stunts, the job of preventing them falls to an organisation called The Police.
It is unfortunate that people choose to do the wrong thing at the wheel, but there is however, a poetically simple solution that we can borrow from those gambling and alcohol promotions.
It seems, while you are trying to sell the general public something that, if abused, will lead them to an early grave, including gambling and drinking, all you have to do is overlay two simple words and you can avoid the mire and wrath of Ad Standards.
The new Ford Ranger Raptor - enjoy responsibly.
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