Speedy Nissan Pulsar ad banned by standards board twice in two months

Nissan has taken the unusual step of submitting a third version of its latest Pulsar advertisement, after the second version was struck down by the Advertising Standards Bureau – the second time in two months.

The Advertising Standards Bureau rarely knocks back an ad after it’s been modified, but some Australians have repeatedly taken offence to the ad, which features a car speeding in an emergency situation.

The original ad features a young couple who are speeding through the streets as the woman appears heavily pregnant. Arriving at the hospital the car screeches to a halt before the man looks at his watch and says “Ten twenty four! Personal best!” as the woman removes a pillow from under her shirt.

The ASB started receiving complaints about the advertisement in June, with viewers saying the ad was “irresponsible”.

“The ad appears to contradict the advices given by road safety officials who warn that speed kills and in emergency situations drivers should drive with caution. The ad is irresponsible,” one complaint reads.

In 2012, there were 31 complaints against 15 car ads, but only four were upheld. Last year ads from Volvo and Suzuki were banned by the ABS and this triggered a government inquiry into vehicle advertising.

In response to these complaints the ASB deemed the ad was unacceptable, saying it did depict unsafe driving and breached the conditions surrounding motor vehicle advertising.

The ASB standards say car ads cannot in anyway show people driving unsafely, including people driving in excess of speed limits.

Nissan, rather than abandoning the concept, has launched a third version of the ad via its YouTube channel.

The phrase “Ten twenty four! Personal best!” has been removed from the new version. It now shows the man looking at his watch before hugging his partner and saying, “If we decide to have a baby, we’ll get here easy”. Other changes include the removal of several driving shots, revving sounds and the beep of a stop watch.

This third version has also attracted complaints online.

A Nissan spokesperson told SmartCompany the company takes its road safety obligations seriously.

“Nissan has accepted the Advertising Standard Bureau’s previous determinations regarding the Pulsar SSS television commercial and has modified the commercial accordingly.”

“We do not believe that the commercial in any way depicts unsafe or unlawful driving,” the spokesperson said.

SmartCompany contacted the creators of the ad, Whybin\TBWA Group Melbourne, but received no response prior to publication.

Taboo strategy director Richard Hack told SmartCompany some categories, such as car and alcohol advertising, are “hyper sensitive” and have a number of restrictions.

“As a client you don’t want to be in a position where the ASB is constantly reviewing your work.”

“A lot of the time from the client side there will be a self-regulated approach where the company will have their own internal team look at what’s being put forward creatively and evaluate it in terms of the advertising standards,” he says.

Hack says car companies which advertise high performance vehicle have specific difficulties creating ads.

He says to avoid ASB scrutiny companies need to brief third-party creators as to the specific regulations for the industry.

“Everyone working within the communications teams must know exactly what the policies and regulations are in accordance with the industry. Sometimes it goes askew when you’re briefing a third party to come back to them with recommendations.”


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