Ultra Tune to appeal Ad Standards Board ruling that found one of its ads vilified women

Broede Carmody /

Ultra Tune’s racy pop-up ads tread sexist ground, say complainants

A previous Ultra Tune campaign that caught the attention of the advertising watchdog

The executive chairman of Ultra Tune says he will appeal an Advertising Standards Board ruling that found one of the car servicing company’s ads vilified women.

The ad, which is part of a series of television commercials of a similar nature, features two women whose car stalls while crossing train tracks.

An incoming train then hits the car, before the women are seen walking away from the burning wreckage.

A voiceover then says, “Avoid unexpected situations” before encouraging people to have their car serviced at an Ultra Tune store.

The advertising watchdog received a number of complaints claiming the ad was “disrespectful” and “degrading” to women.

“It portrays two women as sex objects,” one person wrote.

“I would like to remind you that the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called on all Australians to make a ‘cultural shift’ and stop disrespecting women.”

Responding to the complaints, Ultra Tune denied the ad was sexist, pointing out the actors are fully clothed and the commercial has been classified PG.

However, the Advertising Standards Board ruled while the camera did not focus on the women’s “revealing clothes”, the ad did breach advertising standards because it suggested they were “unintelligent” and were “stereotypical helpless female[s]”.

Sean Buckley, the executive chairman of Ultra Tune, told SmartCompany he accepts the advertising watchdog’s decision but will be fighting it through the appropriate avenues.

“They’ve jumped on the first two ads [in this series] as being sexist and whatever, but the next two ads have male drivers in them and have already been filmed,” Buckley says.

“It’s not sexist at all, the only thing I should have done is put the male driver in the second ad. Wait until you see the six to eight ads before you jump on the first two.”

Buckley says the women in the ad do not get stuck on the train tracks because they are unintelligent, but because their car is faulty and in need of repair.

“There’s smoke coming out of it,” he says.

“We’ve had ultimately over 1 million views on our Facebook page and franchises whose sales have gone up 300%. Yet these little collective groups [those who have complained] have decided to ban it.”

“If I have to take it to the High Court, I will. It’s not about the ad, it’s about minority groups who object and then control the majority of people and that’s what I don’t like.”

Ultra Tune has discontinued the advertisement in question until an independent review of the advertising watchdog’s decision is undertaken.

However, the second instalment to the marketing campaign, which features two women in a car that falls off the side of a cliff, is still available online.

Nicole Reaney, director of InsideOut PR, told SmartCompany advertising that plays off a theme of damsels in distress can be seen by viewers as a “tired depiction” that has been done before.

“When creating advertising campaigns, companies need to consider their target audience, and then every other stakeholder that can have a view of the ad,” Reaney says.

“Test market campaigns with a select group in order to identify various perceptions.”

Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is a former senior reporter at SmartCompany. Previously, he was a co-editor of RMIT University's student magazine Catalyst.

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  • Inagrtio

    Ultratune are doing far worse than using “tired stereotypes” – they are blatantly using sexism to sell their product. And for that, they need to be slapped down.

    • Stewart Smith

      Nobody should be “slapped down”. Chill. Stop with the overboard political correctness BS.

      • Inagrtio

        Stewart, it’s real easy to see nothing wrong when you’re not being affected by it. ABC 774 Melbourne today quoted an expert which stated the divergence in public opinion between those who seek to hose down women’s concerns about sexual discrimination/harassment and those who take it seriously. They also stated that the attitude of permissibility stated by the first group caused the sexual discrimination tended to cause the behaviour/attitudes to worsen.

        • Stewart Smith

          there is no reasoning with the feminazi

          • Inagrtio

            Misogyonists are like ostriches – because their heads in the sand so much of the time, they can’t recognise their head of faulty reasoning was chopped off ages ago

  • Rohan

    Go Ultratune. Make a free speech noise here.

    They should also sue the argument that the ad demonstrates the pitfalls of poor preventative maintenance. Therefore it is inherently dangerous not to do so. Ergo, it has women’s best interest at heart by reminding them to get their car serviced.

    • Rohan

      *use not sue

      • Stewart Smith


    • Inagrtio

      Rights of one group must not trample another in a free and equal society. There is no inherent right for one group to say derogatory things about another group.

  • CCN

    I was one of the people that complained about these ads… and contrary to the advertising board’s ruling, I still think they are sexist, demeaning and objectifying women.

    Ultra Tune need to grow up.

    • Stewart Smith

      Get a life and stop with your self-endoulging frivolous complaining.

      • Inagrtio

        Stop abusing people because they have opinions different to you.

    • Inagrtio

      Agreed. Thank you for your efforts. It’s much appreciated.

  • Gary Schwidden

    Lets face it there are women and men like the ones depicted in the add it depends which market the business wants to pitch to.
    And some from this demographic can laugh at this and themselves without feeling demeanered and objectified .
    Its meant to be humourous so lets take it as it was intended.