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Volkswagen ads banned for encouraging irresponsible driving

The ads, seen in February, promoted the Advanced Safety Systems
The ads, seen in February, promoted the Advanced Safety Systems

Two television ads for Volkswagen promoting a safety feature on one of its cars have been banned for encouraging irresponsible driving.

The ads, seen in February, promoted the Advanced Safety Systems feature on the VW Polo and showed a man and his father driving when an icon appeared in the wing mirror and the car was shown to narrowly miss colliding with a lorry, followed later by an alert flashing on the dashboard when they braked suddenly to avoid a pedestrian.

The father appeared to be relieved and tapped the dashboard, with on-screen text stating: "For life's adventurers ... We make the future real."

Six viewers complained that the ads were irresponsible because they encouraged dangerous driving by exaggerating the benefit of the vehicle's safety features.

Volkswagen Group UK said the car was not shown to be driven dangerously and there was nothing that condoned or encouraged dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving.

It said the father's nervousness was not due to the manner in which his son was driving the vehicle but the natural worry of a protective parent.

Ad clearance agency Clearcast said both scenes showed the driver in control of his vehicle, driving responsibly with the potential dangers caused by other people.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the father's visibly nervous disposition when sitting in the car as a passenger and the loud indie rock soundtrack played throughout the ads contributed to the impression that the driver was irresponsible.

The ASA said the driver was not clearly shown to check his mirrors before indicating and almost turning into the overtaking lorry, while the second instance showed the vehicle abruptly halting after a pedestrian suddenly stepped out into the road.

It said: "We therefore considered that the overall message of the ad was of reliance on the vehicle's safety features to aid those who were likely to drive irresponsibly.

"We concluded that the dependency on the Advanced Safety Systems exaggerated the vehicle's safety features and the overall tone of the ad encouraged irresponsible driving and was in breach of the code."