London Taxis censured for radio ad overstating Covid-19 safety

Not all models of taxi offer two-metre gap from driver, ad watchdog found.

Taxis: ASA found features reducing risk of transmission were not consistent across vehicle models
Taxis: ASA found features reducing risk of transmission were not consistent across vehicle models

The organisation representing London black cab drivers has been hit with a ban by the ad watchdog for a radio spot that misrepresented the level of safety from coronavirus infection when travelling in a taxi.

The ad for the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association features a woman explaining the features that allow her to feel safe when travelling by taxi: the screen dividing her from the driver; the driver being “over two metres away from me”; and the availability of contactless payment.

It generated a single complaint from a listener who heard the ad in July and believed it exaggerated the ability of these features to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Advertising Standards Authority examined three models of London black cabs, based on internal measurements provided by Radiocentre, and found that in two of them, there was a distance of two metres or more between the driver and passengers sitting on either side of the back seat. In the third, though, the ASA found the distance was “two metres or less”, meaning the distance claim in the ad was not correct for this model.

On the partition screen, LTDA told the ASA that where there were gaps in this, it was possible to seal them. But the ASA noted there was no actual requirement for the drivers to do this, and also pointed to guidance from Transport for London that partition screens would not entirely eliminate the risk of transmission.

As a result, the watchdog found the ad breached BCAP Code rules on misleading advertising, substantiation and exaggeration, and ordered that it must not appear again in the form complained about.

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