The campaign for Nissan’s Note model, by TBWA, shows a couple driving through a tunnel and being approached by supernatural creatures. The ad is set to the backing track of ‘Evil Eye’ by Franz Ferdinand.
Two viewers complained that the ad was unsuitable for children to see due to the "frightening content" and the song’s lyrics, which include, "What’s the colour of the next car. It’s red you bastard, yeah red you bastard. Don’t believe in God, but believe in this shit."
One of the complainants argued the lyric would also be offensive to viewers who did believe in God.
Nissan said they had commissioned a "clean" version of the track, with the swear words replaced with "basket" and "schtick", and added that the lyrics of the song were "barely discernible".
The manufacturer argued there was nothing in the content of the ad to "suggest or imply anything irreligious", and that it was a "light-hearted" depiction of a modern-day ghost train which would not scare the average child viewer.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled in favour of Nissan, stating it was "unlikely that the viewers and particularly children would believe they had heard swear words and be offended".
It added that the lyric referring to God was unlikely to cause "serious or widespread offence", as the lyric was given no prominence.