The television advertisement was set in an eye clinic. The sign behind the reception
desk in the clinic read “The Laser Eye Clinic”. The opening scene featured the receptionist
speaking to a female prospective client about the various types of laser eye surgery available.
Through a glass window in the background an eye surgeon can be seen testing his laser operating
equipment. We see the surgeon blowing into the equipment, the laser fires at the wall and a picture
falls down. We see a male patient sitting on a trolley in the operating room with two people
wearing scrubs. The male patient leaves the room and speaks to another person in scrubs he tells
them “it feels really good.”
While all the above ensued the conversation between the receptionist and prospective client took
place as follows:
Receptionist: “Machine wise you’ve two options. The Xtron laser 8000 one of only three in the
country. Or the laser IV one perhaps not as new but the treatment is a lot cheaper. A few problems
in its old age” (This is the one which fired on its own knocking the picture from the wall).
Client: “Haven’t we all. Best go with the old faithful then.” (Referring to the older equipment).
The woman is then shown lying on the trolley with her head strapped into place as the she waits for
the procedure to begin. She looks out the window and sees the earlier male patient walking towards
a red Volkswagen. The final screen shows the Volkswagen logo accompanied by the following on-screen
“You get what you pay for up!
Up! from €8,635 Well worth it Das Auto.”
The complainant considered it inappropriate to compare laser eye surgery to purchasing a car. She said that there were many people waiting to have corrective laser surgery and advertising such as this, portraying cheap surgery equipment, did little to help these people or alleviate their fears if they were frightened or worried about having the procedure.
The advertisers said that the tone of the advertisement was very much tongue in cheek and the scenario depicted was one that would not occur in reality. The concept behind their advertisement was that ‘You get so much more with Volkswagen’ because they do not cut corners. They said to illustrate this they had used a very inept looking optician using a very old piece of equipment resembling a pneumatic drill that would have looked more in place on a building site.
They considered the scenario used to be fictitious, humorous, and so unbelievable that
it would not cause fear or distress.
The advertisers also said that it had never been their intention to discredit another business or
product, they considered it highly unlikely that an eye clinic existed where a pneumatic drill like
laser would be used to carry out a sensitive eye procedure. They reiterated once again that it had
never been their intention to cause fear or distress with
their marketing communication.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. While accepting that some consumers may be nervous of having laser eye surgery, they considered that the scene portrayed in the advertisement was far-fetched and could not be likened to the normal surrounds of a laser eye clinic. In the circumstances the Committee did not consider that any breach of the Code had occurred and did not uphold the complaint.
No further action was required in this case.