The radio advertising for Toyota featured a conversation between a man and woman as follows:
“Man: Did I see you in a 141 Toyota Auris?
Man: And what happened to your 08 Golf?
Woman: It became the deposit
Man: Did it now?
Woman: Yep, and some cash back too
Man: You jammy so and so
Male Voiceover: Ask your Toyota dealer about Toyota Flex Finance or go to finance.toyota.ie and see just how close you could be to a brand new Toyota with a low monthly repayment and a guaranteed future value. What’s more, there’s 100 million euro in finance available right now. Toyota Flex Finance, it’s a whole new way to buy the best built cars in the world.
Lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. Deposit required. Finance is provided by way of a hire purchase agreement. The credit provider is Bank of Ireland Finance which is a registered trading mark of Bank of Ireland. Offer available at participating dealers.”
An objection to the advertising was received from Volkswagen Ireland through their advertising agency. They considered that the beginning of the commercial could only be seen as a blatant attempt to demean and undermine the Volkswagen Golf and as such, the advertisers had not respected the principles of fair competition and were in breach of the spirit of the Code. The complainants also considered that the advertisers had chosen to deliberately and specifically reference the Volkswagen Golf in an attempt to devalue the model and brand.
The advertisers said that they did not consider that there was a case to answer in relation to their advertising. They said that since 1st January 2013, significant numbers of Volkswagen customers had moved to the Toyota brand. They said that they knew from their records that 22% of those customers who had defected from the Volkswagen brand had bought an Auris in 2014 and this was one of the factors which had inspired their advertising.
The advertisers said that the second point which they wished to raise was the fact that the Volkswagen Golf was seen as a leading car in the C car segment and was therefore not unusual for it to be used as a “car of reference”, to frame the type/class of vehicle that other manufacturers wished to talk about. Thirdly they said that citing another competing brand was common practice in the car industry. They also noted that advertising by Volkswagen had referred to the Toyota brand.
Finally the advertisers said that they considered that part of the reason for the complaint from Volkswagen related to car figure sales for the month of January 2014 which showed the two companies as competitors.
Complaint not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They noted the reasons put forward by the advertisers for the comparison with Volkswagen and accepted that the Code did not prohibit naming competitors. They did not consider that the presentation in this case had involved the competitor’s brand being demeaned nor was there a breach of the provision in relation to fair competition. In such circumstances they did not find that a breach of the Code had occurred and did not uphold the complaint.
No further action required.