ASA will not investigate GoCompare ad as complaints grow to 215

Watchdog rules ad 'unlikely to cause distress or widespread offence'.

The Advertising Standards Authority will take no further action over GoCompare.com's TV spot in which opera-singer character Gio Compario is seen crawling out of a crashed car, despite the number of complaints now reaching 215.

At the last count earlier this month, the spot had accrued 168 complaints – more than double the number reported the previous week.

Despite many consumers finding the ad offensive, distressing and insensitive towards victims and families affected by road accidents, the ad watchdog said it had "carefully assessed the complaints but do not consider there are grounds for further action".

In a statement, it said: "We considered that the aim of the ad was to highlight that unexpected events may happen and that the character Gio Compario was a long-standing character that would be recognised by most viewers."

The ASA noted that the crash scene was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie-style crash, "with the car moving in slow motion over the tree and that the scene was not unduly graphic".

It added: "We also noted that the driver of the car remained unharmed and was able to continue with his recognisable singing.

"Therefore, while we acknowledged the complainants’ concerns and sympathised with those who had personal experiences of car crashes, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause distress or serious or widespread offence to viewers."

"Tree", created by Droga5, made its debut on 25 August and features Gio Compario at the site of a reconstructed car accident, rather than doing his usual lighthearted singing routine.

"What you're about to see is based on a true insurance claim," an on-screen narrator tells viewers as the actor who plays Gio Compario stands by a roadside holding a picture of a claimant. "In this reconstruction, Margaret Mahoney is played by Gio Compario."

The ad is nevertheless humorous in tone, with Gio Compario driving through a wood as he listens to a metal track on his car stereo.