The complainant challenged whether the advertisement contravened the ASAI Code under safety. She considered that the advertisement condoned dangerous cycling behaviour in that it depicted a young man cycling while using his mobile phone.
The advertisers apologised that the complainant considered that the advertisement promoted irresponsible or reckless cycling. They stated that this was not their intention.
The explained that the premise of the advertisement was to highlight the lengths people went to in order to avail of free WIFI. They said that each vignette was dialled up for comedic effect, and pointed out that the reality was that people do not chase buses for wifi.
They pointed out that the voice-over, accompanied by the on screen text, indicated that they were in no way condoning the behaviour portrayed. They said that in fact the combination of the voice-over and the text on-screen clearly warned viewers against making this ridiculous choice.
They appreciated that the depiction could be seen to jar with road safety best practice. However, when they were shooting the advertisement they went to great lengths to ensure that the location was cordoned off, with no traffic bar the bus and the bike as featured. They said that the way the cyclist was kitted out did not in anyway suggest flippancy on their part in relation to road safety.
They considered that having considered all points raised they would go about making edits to this scene in the advertisement to ensure that the cyclist would in no way be depicted as promoting reckless behaviour.
The ASAI Secretariat contacted the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and invited their comments on this aspect of the advertisement. The RSA indicated that they were of the view that the advertisement promoted highly dangerous road user behaviour.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint, the advertisers’ response and the RSA’s views in the matter.
The Committee noted that the young male character depicted cycling after the bus, was wearing a helmet. They also noted however that this character was shown using his mobile phone while cycling. While they accepted that the concept of this vignette or scenario was intended to be humorous and that the voice-over condemned rather than condoned the cyclist’s behaviour, they were of the view that the scene nevertheless depicted dangerous behaviour and an unsafe practice of using a mobile phone while cycling, which contravened Section 2.29 of the Code.
The advertisement should not appear in its current format again. The Committee acknowledged the advertisers’ comments regarding amendments to the advertisement and reminded them that the Secretariat of the ASAI could provide copy advice in this regard.