The advertisement which was accompanied by the BMW Logo referred to the following:
“The Ultimate Driving Machine”
The complainant stated that the use of the word “ultimate” in the advertisement basically implied that BMW are “being the best or more extreme” Driving Machine which he stated cannot be proved.
The advertisers responded to the complaint, stating that it was not entirely clear what exactly the complainant had taken issue with. They advised that there was absolutely no intention and there never was an intention to imply that BMW was “the best or most extreme” driving machine as stated in the complaint.
They advised that the slogan is a clear example of advertising puffery, a common and accepted feature of advertising throughout the world, which does not conflict with the ASAI Code. Stating that puffery is only unacceptable if it is misleading, they advised that there is no evidence that consumers were being misled by the slogan. Stating that the slogan, being a subjective opinion and so can never be a statement of fact, they advised that what constitutes “The Ultimate Driving Machine” can never be objectively verified. They advised that the slogan was an exaggerated statement and no reasonable person could interpret the slogan as a statement of fact or take it literally.
Saying that the slogan has been used in Ireland and elsewhere throughout the world since the 1970’s, they advised that since that time the consumer would expect cars to be further improved over a 30 year period. They said that, therefore, were an “Ultimate Driving Machine” to exist, it would be subject to change over time and consumers would be aware that better cars would eventually be produced.
They considered that what constitutes the “Ultimate Driving Machine” will differ for different people: one person might value speed, another the comfort of seats or the other internal features of the car, another driveability, another design etc. Stating that BMW itself produces more than one car, in order to substantiate the slogan, one specific BMW would have to have been put forward as the “Ultimate Driving Machine”. They added that if BMW really intended the slogan to be interpreted literally, it would not have used the slogan in relation to multiple cars.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the Slogan “The Ultimate Driving Machine” prevailed in advertising across the entire BMW range and had never been applied as a statement of fact on a stand-alone basis in relation to one particular model.
The Committee noted that the complaint related principally to substantiation of the advertising statement. They considered the slogan, particularly in the context of section 4.2 and 4.9 of the Code and accepted that the slogan was a deliberate use of ‘puffery’, permissible under the Code. They also considered that the majority of consumers would interpret the slogan as such. In addition, the Committee noted that the slogan did not contain a reference to or qualification of any particular characteristic of the ‘machine’. They considered, therefore, that the advertisement was not likely to mislead. The Committee did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.