The television advertising for Axa Insurance featured a young couple Mark and Rachael sitting in their car. Mark is seen repositioning the driver’s seat prior to starting the car’s engine. The following conversation ensued:
Mark: “You are the smallest person in the world, do you know that?
Rachael: You’re going to break it.
Mark: Break it? It’s fine”
Mark starts the engine of the car, his seat breaks and he falls backwards leaving the car without a driver. The car crashes into another car. Mark and Rachael get out and inspect the damage to the cars.
Rachael: “What, there goes our no claims.
Mark: The AXA red line, yes, all is not lost. Watch this, watch this.”
A red line appears on the road. The scene with the crashed cars flips over and the two cars reappear, the damage has disappeared.
Rachael: “How did you do that?
Mark: It’s pretty good, isn’t it?
Voiceover: “At AXA we don’t think you should lose your whole no claims discount over one mistake, so with accident forgiveness you won’t. Call, visit or click. AXA redefining standards.”
The on-screen footnote displayed the following message:
“Terms and conditions apply. Accident Forgiveness is stepback no claims discount protection for customers with one or more years no claims discount. AXA insurance limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.”
The complainant considered it inappropriate to highlight dangerous/careless driving in a light-hearted fashion. She also considered that the main message of the advertisement was that if a crash should occur the most important thing was that the driver did not lose their no claims bonus. The complainant also said that the safety of others involved in the crash should have been seen to be far more important than the loss of a no claims bonus.
The advertisers said that they were not trying to portray careless driving. The driver (Mark) adjusted his car seat prior to starting the car. Just as the car started to move the seat broke causing him to fall backwards, leaving the car without a driver.
The advertisers considered that what happened to Mark was a genuine accident and the message in their advertising had been that when a genuine accident occurred, they were there to offer cover. They also offered their apologies to anybody who had misinterpreted the message in their advertising.
Complaint Not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. They noted that the driver’s seat had been adjusted prior to starting the engine and that the main theme of the advertisement related to the type of cover on offer from the advertisers. They did not consider that any form of dangerous driving had been depicted and while they noted the use of humour, they did not consider that the advertisers had made light of safety or dangerous driving. On this basis the Committee concluded that there had been no breach of the Code involved and did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.