The Government has run into fresh controversy with an advertising
campaign to sell personalised car registration plates.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has been forced to pull the
press and 22 million-strong direct mail campaign a third of the way
through because of complaints from both the public and MPs.
Complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority have criticised the
ads for using envy to sell the plates and being ‘over the top’, while
letters condemning the campaign have also appeared in the national
Personalised plates with the new ‘p’ prefix cost up to pounds 2,000
apiece and the direct mail and press campaign encourages drivers to make
people jealous with their registration number.
The copy reads: ‘You know how envious people are when you get a new car.
Well this year really rub it in.’ Sales this year have already topped
pounds 5 million.
The DVLA is now understood to have ended the campaign prematurely to
avoid further controversy. Press ads have been pulled while direct mail,
which was due to piggyback tax-disc reminders to another 14 million
homes, has been pulped.
Jamie Priestley, account director at Claydon Heeley, the agency that
devised the campaign, said it had been misinterpreted: ‘The ad was
tongue-in-cheek and was not meant to be taken seriously.
‘There have been a handful of complaints but it was passed by the ASA
before the campaign ran. It’s not causing us any problems because we
have new work ready to roll.’