ITC acts after wave of protests over car ads

The threatened crackdown on car manufacturers’ ads (Campaign, 27 June) materialised this week as advertising regulators responded to another spate of complaints.

The threatened crackdown on car manufacturers’ ads (Campaign, 27

June) materialised this week as advertising regulators responded to

another spate of complaints.



The fiercest criticism was directed at Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper’s latest ad

for the Citroen Saxo. This was censured by the Independent Television

Commission after drawing more than 240 complaints, according to the

ITC’s latest Television Advertising Complaints report.



The ad shows a Citroen car on a production line undergoing violent

transformation from a standard to a sporty model, with ghostly images

flying around the gloomy factory. The threatening atmosphere is

reinforced by the sound of chanting and, once the transformation is

complete, the car is driven away by a man whose face is morphed into

that of a devil.



Complainants objected to the scheduling of the ad, which meant children

could see it. More than 50 viewers reported their children had been

frightened.



Other complaints centred on the references to the devil, or said it

offended their Christian beliefs.



Although the ad was cleared by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance

Centre, the ITC upheld the complaints about the timing of the ad and

stipulated a post-7.30pm scheduling restriction. An edited version of

the ad has been produced without the most extreme images.



Complaints were also upheld against Ammirati Puris Lintas’s ’hostage’ ad

for the Rover 600.



The commercial shows the release of a blindfolded prisoner who is guided

on to the rear seat of a car and, without removing his blindfold,

explores the car and relaxes once the feel of the Rover makes him

realise he’s safe.



The ad attracted 134 complaints, most of which were concerned with the

similarity between the hostage scene in the ad and that of on-going

hostage situations, particularly the plight of the two Britons in

Kashmir.



Viewers also claimed the ad displayed racist overtones and reinforced

stereotypical images of religious fundamentalists as terrorists.



Although the ITC was informed the intention of the ad was to show a

secret service-style diplomatic exchange of prisoners, and not civilian

hostages, the commission felt viewers were not making that distinction

and therefore upheld the complaints.



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