The video on Kia’s Facebook page for the Kia Stinger opens with a man running towards the screen, the sound of waves crashing can be heard. He is wearing a shirt and trousers but is barefoot. The man is then shown jumping off a cliff into the sea. He screams as he falls towards the sea. The screen pauses when he is mid-air and text appears on screen stating, "One Wish list", "One Car", "The New Kia Stinger".
The scene then changes to show the image of the car driving in the countryside. The car meets a herd of goats on the road and then is shown driving fast, then arriving at a house in the countryside in the dark. The man is then shown in a bar, he appears to be enjoying himself.
The scene then shows the car parked in the countryside, the driver’s door is open and the man can be seen in the distance running, again wearing a shirt and trousers. The camera pans to the driver's seat where a journal is shown open, pages flapping in the wind.
The advertisement cuts back to the man jumping off a cliff into the sea, screaming as he falls. He is shown entering the water and swimming to the surface, then climbing up the edge of the cliff. He is then shown walking and then sitting in his car, going through the notebook and ticking a box on a page. The page of the notebook is shown which states:
"Spain - Tomatina"
"- Bon Fircl" with a check box beside both and both boxes ticked with a red pen. Underneath states:
"Scotland - Cliff Jump" with a check box, also ticked with a red pen.
The car is then shown driving through the countryside. On screen text states "The new Kia Stinger. Long Live Driving"
"Kia. The Power to Surprise".
The end frame features the car parked at a cliff edge with the man in the foreground looking through his notebook. The onscreen text states "Watch all episodes"
The complainant said he found the advertising to be extremely disturbing as, before he noted what the advertisement was for, he considered that the fully clothed man was attempting to commit suicide. The complainant, who participated actively in water sports, considered that if the advertisement was purporting to promote adventure, then it should have shown the man wearing a wetsuit and using safety gear when jumping from the cliff as this was normally the case for coasteering. The complainant also said that it appeared that the man was jumping alone which was irresponsible as it could potentially encourage others to swim alone or to participate in similar unsafe behaviour around cliffs and water which was actively discouraged by water safety organisations.
The advertisers said the campaign had been developed by Kia Motors Europe and was a “serialised drama” in the format of webisodes (1) .
They said that the hero in the drama had a wish list of things he wished to achieve and he chose to do this by way of a road trip through Europe. They said that the main webisodes in the series featured the hero in different scenarios such as taking over as DJ in a famous Berlin nightclub, participating in the Tomatina in Spain and travelling to Scotland for a cliff jump. They said that in all cases he ticked off his wish list and they considered it to be fairly apparent to the viewer what his intentions were. They also drew attention to the fact that during the course of the drama, the advertised product and the slogan “Long Live Driving” had featured prominently.
The advertisers said that whilst they took on board the complainant’s opinion, they did not agree that this advertisement was in any way encouraging dangerous behaviour or suicide. They considered the spirit of the serialised “drama” was one of joyful determination as the “hero” went about his work. They said while his jump from the cliff may have been foolhardy, they considered this to be the way of fictional characters generally. They considered that construing the hero acting out this wish as an invitation for reckless behaviour underestimated the intelligence of the viewer.
A webisode is an episode of a series that is distributed as web television. It is available as either for download or in streaming, as opposed to first airing on broadcast or cable television. The format can be used as a preview, a promotion, as part of a collection of shorts, or a commercial.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted that while the main character featured in the advertisement may have been completing his wish list, they did not consider it was best practice to portray anyone, particularly a person fully clothed, jumping from a cliff feet first into the water below. The Committee also noted that the man had run at speed towards the cliffs and was not wearing any safety apparatus and that he appeared to have jumped alone into the water without taking note of rocks or any other dangerous items that may have been present. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertising had condoned unsafe practices and was in breach of Section 3.24(a) of the Code.
ACTION REQUIRED: The advertisement should not be used in its current format again.