Nissan ad not 'racist', but still banned

An advertising campaign for the Nissan 370Z has escaped charges of racism but has still been banned for its focus on speed and acceleration by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Outdoor ads created by TBWA\London, and digital ads by Digitas were scheduled to coincide with the England versus Germany football clash during the Fifa 2010 World Cup.

The ad carried the slogan 'How to beat the Germans', and the phrase 'Deutschland Deutschland über rated'.

The Nissan ads also compared the acceleration of the Nissan 370Z with a series of well known German brands, with the line "0-62 MPH AUDI TTS - 5.4s BMW Z4 3.0 - 5.8s PORSCHE CAYMAN - 5.8s NISSAN 370Z - 5.3s" The internet ad included an image of the car speeding across the screen.

The creative was enough to attract 32 complaints relating to alleged allusions to Nazism or 'racism' towards Germans.

Nissan argued the intention of the campaign was to challenge the perception that German sports car brands were always superior to the sports cars produced by other manufacturers.

They also denied that acceleration was the predominant message, referring back to the 'Deutschland Deutschland über rated' slogan.

The ASA accepted that consumers would understand the message of the ad to be a light-hearted assertion that German cars were overrated compared to the Nissan 370Z, but took a different view on the use of acceleration and speed in the ad.

"We considered that the main message of the ad was that the Nissan had faster acceleration, and that the German cars were therefore over rated," the watchdog stated in its rulings. "We concluded that that the acceleration claim was the predominant message and that the ad was in breach of the Code," CAP Code (Edition 11) Clause 48.2 (Motoring)."

The ASA has banned both outdoor and digital ads from being shown in its current form.

Germany won the game 4-1.