A television advertisement for AIB featured real home video footage taken by a car loan customer surprising his partner and young child with a new car. The woman is shown walking down her driveway before she notices the car on the side of the road.
The headline of the advertisement stated:
“WE ALL HAVE THAT THING WE'D LOVE TO DO”
Male voice: "See you guys!"
The woman points to the car and asks, "What's that?"
Male voice: "It's our new car."
She smiles and asks, "What did you do?"
Male voice: "Go on, have a look!"`
Male voice: "Do you like it?"
She says: "Did you just buy that?"
On screen text states: “WHY WAIT?
LOANS FROM €1000 APPROVED WITHIN 3 HOURS”
The woman addresses a small child: "Evan, look! Look at mummy's new car!”
The woman is then shown sitting in the driver’s seat looking straight ahead. Her right hand is on the steering wheel, while her left hand releases the hand break. As the car begins to move, she turns her head, appearing to very briefly glance at the rear view mirror, before appearing to look at her partner in the passenger seat and smiling while the car is moving away.
The camera then focuses on the child in the rear of the car who is strapped into a forward facing car seat. The child is wearing a padded coat.
Male voice: "Do you like the new car Evan?"
Child: "I love my new car."
Female: "Oh man, you get serious brownie points. Serious brownie points.”
On screen text:
AIB BACKING DOING”
Small print featured on screen during the advertisement stated:
“New applications processed within 3 hrs, 9-5, Mon-Fri, excl. bank hols. Loan amount €1,000-€30,000 & 1-5 year terms. Excludes: branch applications requiring further review, customers in financial difficulty, restructuring existing AIB debt and total borrowings >100,000e (excl. home loan debt <600,000e). Lending criteria, terms & conditions apply. Over 18s. Security may be required. Customer received a gratuity. Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.”
Eleven complainants considered that the advertisement had portrayed unsafe practices. The complainants objected to two aspects of the advertisement:
Complainants considered that the child had not been correctly fastened into his car seat as firstly, he was wearing a thick coat, which they said was dangerous in the event of an accident and was contrary to safety recommendations and secondly, the seat belts were too loose on the child. Thirdly some complainants also considered that the child should have been in a rear facing car seat.
The complainants considered that the driver had not carried out the necessary safety checks before moving the vehicle.
The advertisers stated that they were disappointed that the complainants had concerns regarding both the safety of the child and the driving behaviour of the mother. They said that the campaign had featured footage captured by AIB customers themselves, who were the parents of the child. They said that the footage was then edited down to a 30 second advertisement that focused on the individual’s emotional reaction to the moment their loan actually came into use.
They did not agree that they were encouraging or condoning dangerous behaviour or unsafe practices for the following reasons:
Forward facing car seat – They referred to the Road Safety Authority’s Guidelines which stated that a child could move to a forward facing car seat if they were between 9 months and 4 years and had exceeded the maximum weight for their rearward-facing seat. They said that at the time of filming the child in question was 2 years and 6 months old and weighed 14.5Kg which met both of the requirements for a forward facing car seat.
Loose Straps – They again referred to the Road Safety Authority’s Guidelines which stated that if a harness was being used in a forward-facing seat, it should be tight enough so that only two fingers could fit between the child’s breastbone and the harness. They said that in this instance the parents undertook the required checks to ensure their child was safe and secure in his car seat.
Puffy Coat – They said that it was not a legal requirement to avoid wearing a puffy coat in a car seat, which was corroborated by an accredited Driving Instructor and Road Safety Expert. The parents made the judgement on the day as to what was appropriate clothing for their child and that their child was safe and secure in his car seat before setting off on their short journey to trial their new car.
In regards to the woman not carrying out the necessary safety checks before driving off, the advertiser stated that as per the Driving School of Ireland’s road safety guidelines for ‘moving off safely’, it was recommended practice to check to the front of the car, the interior mirror, right mirror and over your right shoulder for the blind spot, before releasing the handbrake and moving slowly forward. They said that in the advertisement, just three seconds of footage of the driver in the driver’s seat was shown at the moment she releases the handbrake and safely pulls away from the kerb, having already completed her required safety checks, with the intent of showing her trialling her new car. They said that as a result of this, although not shown in the film, all safety checks had been adhered to.
They said that all their advertising was subject to approval by both Advertising Compliance and Legal functions within AIB before it could be released for use. They said that their objective was to conduct their business in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of the relevant laws, regulations and codes which apply to its regulated activities, as well as their internal compliance policies and standards and to act with integrity, honesty and fairly in dealing with their customers.
While they regretted that the advertisement had prompted complaints, they believed they had comprehensively demonstrated, through review of guidelines and regulations as well as consultation with a professional accredited Driving Instructor and Road Safety expert that the advertisement did not condone dangerous behaviours and at all times the safety and security of the child had been ensured.
Complaints Upheld In Part
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. The Committee also noted the RSA’s Guidelines as referenced by the advertisers.
The Committee noted the RSA’s Guidelines for placing children in forward-facing child seats and that in this case there was adherence to the required weight and height guidelines for forward-facing child seats. The Committee did not consider that this element of the advertisement was in breach of the Code.
In regards to the seat belt straps on the car seat, the Committee noted that the RSA’s Guidelines advised that a forward-facing seat’s harness should be tight enough so that only two fingers could fit between a child’s breastbone and the harness. Whilst the Committee appreciated that the ad concept was intended to encapsulate a real life surprise moment, the Committee noted that the image of the harness featured in the advertisement appeared to be sufficiently slack so that it appeared to be outside the RSA’s recommended safety guideline.
The Committee noted the RSA’s Guidelines on clothing and how it could affect how snugly a car seat harness fitted, recommending therefore that blankets were used instead of bulky jackets in winter. While the Committee noted that there was no legal requirement in the matter, they considered that the child’s thick coat featured affected the fit of the harness and therefore, was not in line with the recommended safety guidelines.
The Committee noted that the Code requires that a marketing communication should not condone or encourage dangerous behaviour or unsafe practices. They considered that there was an onus on advertisers to ensure that in circumstances where a car is being used, such as in this advertisement, children and others are portrayed in a safe manner. They also considered that advertisements should be edited in such a manner that unsafe practices are not shown.
In the circumstances the Committee considered that the depiction of a child’s thick coat together with a child seat harness that appeared to be loose according to appropriate guidelines was in breach of Section 3.24(a) of the Code.
The Committee noted the advertisers’ comments that the necessary driver safety checks had been carried out and accepted that the footage shown was a ‘snapshot’ of the full event and was used to portray the moment the driver received her new car. Accordingly the Committee did not consider that this element of the advertisement was in breach of the Code.
The advertisement must not reappear in its current form again.