Motorway spot banned for encouraging 'irresponsible driving'

Used-car buying service filmed high-octane ad on an actual motorway.

Motoroway: ad has now been withdrawn from online channels
Motoroway: ad has now been withdrawn from online channels

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad, created by Wonderhood Studios, for the used car-buying service Motorway. 

The ad, which started running in August had received 15 complaints. The complainants claimed that the ad condoned and encouraged dangerous behaviour and challenged whether it was irresponsible.

The ad visualises the purpose of the Motorway app, which allows car dealers to bid on used cars. A man puts his car up for sale while he lounges in the bathtub in his home, which is being towed along the motorway. Car dealers are shown driving alongside, bidding on the car parked in his drive and overtaking each other as their offers increase and outdo the others.

Eventually, the winning car dealer jumps onto the tow truck and secures the used car.

In response to the complainants, Motorway said that the ad was designed to be fantastical and not set in the real world. They used the example of the man sitting in the bath with his house and driveway being driven down an empty motorway as an example of its imaginary setting.

Further, they argued that the driving style was very choreographed, and the final stunt, which showed a car dealer jumping from car to tow truck, was designed to show that it was in a controlled environment.

Clearcast, the non-governmental organisation that pre-approves most British television advertising, said it advised the agency to make the scenery, driving scenes and stunts look hyperbolic and surreal, so there would be no chance of emulating the activities. The ad was ultimately approved by Clearcast.

However, the ASA concluded that the ad breached BCAP and CAP codes, the UK broadcasting and non-broadcasting codes, respectively. Although the ASA recognised the setting as fantastical, they concluded it would be recognisable to viewers as a real-life setting and the driving manoeuvres would be dangerous were they attempted on a public highway.

It told Motorway not to condone or encourage irresponsible driving in its ads.

A spokesperson for Wonderhood Studios said: “Although our TV advert complied with the guidance provided by Clearcast, following the ASA upheld complaint, the advert will not be broadcast again in its original form. 

"Wonderhood Studios and Motorway do not condone or encourage dangerous driving.”  

The ad now appears to have been withdrawn from official online channels.

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