An advertising campaign for the 123GO app depicted a son driving with his mother in the passenger seat of the car. The mother enquires about the app as she is inspecting it on her son’s phone. He looks to the left at 00:02 seconds and becomes visibly frustrated as she has trouble working the phone, tilting his head and half closing his eyes at 00:17 seconds. She appears offended and proceeds to goad him by taking a photograph with his phone. He looks to the left and takes his left hand off the wheel at 00:18 seconds while his right appears to hold it loosely. She continues to play with his phone while he asks her to stop. He becomes progressively more agitated and looks to the left at 00:23 seconds and again at 00:27 when his mother makes a phone call to his girlfriend. At this stage he is visibly anxious and his mother appears gleeful.
Six complaints were received regarding the advertisement.
All complainants felt that the advertisement was irresponsible as it appeared to condone potentially dangerous behaviour on the part of the mother by representing her persistent and deliberate distraction of the driver in a humorous manner. They expressed concern that an insurance provider would use such an advertisement as it did not promote safe driving practices.
The advertisers said that from the outset of the conceptualisation of the commercial they had worked with their agency partner to ensure due diligence in promoting safe driving and portraying responsible driving. They said that the purpose of the ad was to promote the launch of 123.ie’s new offering of telematics to younger drivers and portray their message in an irreverent way. They said that what they were trying to achieve with the advertisement was to deliver a message to the younger generation of drivers that reaffirmed that their parents were endearingly out of touch, not only technically, but with the fact that young people can be responsible too, as well as showing them that diligence whilst driving was a great way to save on insurance.
They said that from brief to concept it was always a priority from a production perspective to ensure that safety guidelines for driving were adhered to throughout the filming and editing process. They said they were diligent in every step to ensure they adhered to all regulatory bodies’ guidelines.
They referred to the Road Safety and Advertising in Ireland guidelines drawn up by the Road Safety Authority which clearly lists the following as unsafe behaviour that should be avoided in advertising:
1. Drivers having long conversations with a passenger, or speaking to the camera, without watching the road ahead.
2. Drivers doing something else (for example, lighting a cigarette, eating or drinking) while driving.
They said they were always vigilant that the male driver had his eyes on the road, only moving them from the road for a split-second glance, that the dialogue wasn’t too long for the male driver so as not to distract him and that his hands were on the wheels at all times.
The advertiser said that they had received approval from RTÉ for the ROI version of the advertisement which they deemed to have passed in terms of guidelines. Clearcast UK raised the point that at one point during the commercial the driver’s head turns to the left for longer than a split second. The options were to make two edits, one to be aired in Clearcast -governed territories which portrayed no glance to the left and the other for RTÉ and ROI which featured the split-second glance. As the RTÉ version had passed all regulatory guidelines, they ran it.
They said that they reviewed the complaints in the context of the ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications and were satisfied that their advertisement was not in conflict with the Code. They said they were sorry that it may have offended the six complainants as this was never their intention, and advised that the advertisement would be off air by the end of February. They said that for the next TV Burst in March 2019 they would take the feedback on board and could confirm they would remove the glance that caused issues with some of the viewers regarding unsafe driving.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They acknowledged that the advertisers were willing to amend the scene portraying the glance, however, they felt that the advertisement as it appeared at the time of broadcast did not promote safe driving practices. They further felt that the advertisement portrayed dangerous behaviour and a distracted driver throughout, which the Committee considered condoned unsafe practices. In the circumstances, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Sections 3.3 and 3.24 (a) of the Code
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form.