The ad, called "keep up", was created by Wieden & Kennedy London and appeared on TV screens in February. The Advertising Standards Authority said it must not be shown again in its current form.
Opening on a desert, it encouraged the viewer to keep up with words that flash up on the screen with increasing pace. It was created by Bertie Scrase, Christen Brestrup and Caleb Al-Jorani, and directed by ManvsMachine through Friend.
The ad featured intermittent red lettering and brief clips of Honda products against a salt-plain backdrop. Among the phrases, which successively appear more rapidly, are: "You can surprise yourself. Suddenly you find you can go faster than you thought."
It ends with: "Keep pushing and get to better faster. This is the year. Honda. The Power Of Dreams".
When contacted by the ASA, Honda Motor Europe said the ad was created to inspire people to push their perceived limits using a speed-reading technique. They said any reference to speed did not relate to anything other than speed-reading the on-screen text.
Clearcast told the ASA that they felt the message of the ad clearly represented the innovation of Honda’s new cars. It said it had carefully considered the line "suddenly you find you can go faster than you thought", but said it was clearly linked to speed-reading as opposed to the speed of the cars.
In its ruling, published today, the ASA said viewers were unlikely to interpret the fast changing text to be a speed-reading challenge and that it was instead likely to play on a general theme of speed.
The ASA said: "While the ad did not include realistic depictions of the vehicles being driven in a dangerous manner, we considered, when taken altogether, the fast changing on-screen text, references to "pushing yourself" and "going faster", the scenes of the cars, sound effects and accompanying sound track was likely to leave viewers with the impression that speed was the central message of the ad.
"For those reasons, we therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code, which states that speed must not be the main message of an ad."
The watchdog rejected a separate complaint that the text had encouraged viewers to break the speed limit, through the clips shown of the cars and the on-screen text.
This article was first published on www.campaignlive.co.uk