ASA slaps 9pm watershed on Volkswagen Golf ads

LONDON - TV ads promoting the new Volkswagen Golf have been given a 9pm time restriction after the martial arts-inspired action sparked 1,066 complaints, making it the fifth most complained about ad of all time.

The ads, created by DDB London, feature the chief engineer of Volkswagen embroiled in mortal combat with several replicas of himself.

The stylised fight scenes were mostly hand-to-hand combat, though car parts were used as weapons in the latter part of the ad. The strapline read: "Sometimes the only one you have to beat is yourself... The new Golf."

Viewers felt that the ads were offensive and unsuitable to be shown when children may be watching.

VW said that the ads made no effort to appeal to children, and that the choreographed fight scenes did not result in any visual harm, such as blood or bruises.

The company did not feel that the ads condoned violence, rather that the message was one of individual struggle and the current post-7.30pm timing restriction was appropriate.

The ASA agreed that the fantastical style of the fight scenes in the ads distanced the action from reality. However, as the full-length TV ad and an additional 40-second edit of the TV ad featured the men fighting with weapons, the ASA ruled that a time restriction of 9pm should be applied.

The cinema ad, despite also featuring the weapons, did not face further action as it had been approved for broadcasting before 12A-, 15- and 18-rated films; therefore, any children viewing the film would be accompanied by an adult.

Additional 40-second edits of the TV ads did not require any further action as their content did not include the men fighting with weapons.


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