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
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
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.