The 60– and 30-second films, created by Adam & Eve/DDB, depict a boy growing up and getting into a series of scrapes on his bike and, later, moped. He is eventually shown as a new driver, with his dad in the passenger’s seat, narrowly avoiding two incidents with the help of the car’s added features.
Six people complained to the ASA that the ads were irresponsible because they encouraged dangerous driving by exaggerating the benefit of the vehicle’s safety features.
Despite a detailed defence from Volkswagen, the watchdog ruled that both ads breached the BCAP Code rules on motoring.
It said the first incident, which only features in the 60-second version, showed the driver attempting to switch lanes without having been shown to check his mirrors before indicating – which leads to him almost turning into an overtaking lorry.
The shorter ad only featured the second incident, in which the driver brakes suddenly to avoid hitting a pedestrian. The ASA said that the combination of this, on-screen text reading "For Life’s Adventurers", and the suggestion he was a new driver, implied that there was a reliance on the safety features.
The watchdog ordered the ads not be shown again in their current form.