The advertisement featured a Toyota Yaris being driven around an unidentified city with a number of different drivers and passengers singing loudly and dancing along to a Bruno Mars song 'Locked out of heaven'. The advertisement included shots of both the drivers and passengers in the cars waving their arms about and at one point a female driver appeared to close her eyes as she sang along.
The on screen text posed the following questions:
"Can the new Toyota Yaris make you a happy driver?"
"With the best resale value in Ireland" "3 Years free servicing". "Yes it can!"
"New Yaris, put the fun back in driving"
A female voiceover then provided the following information:
"From just €14,995, put the fun back in driving with the new Yaris from Toyota, the best built cars in the world."
1. A number of complaints were received and all complainants objected to the way both the passengers and drivers in the cars conducted themselves. All considered the behaviour portrayed to be irresponsible and unsafe and not compatible with good driving practices.
2. A complainant considered that driving should be taken seriously and the tagline ‘put the fun back in driving’ was inappropriate to use.
3. Another complainant expressed fear that young drivers may take example from the advertisement, as the impression created was that it was okay to sing and dance while driving a car.
The advertisers said that they were very conscious of their commitment to preparing communications with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society and under no circumstances would they set out to condone dangerous behaviour or unsafe practices.
They said that the marketing communication in question had originated outside of the Irish market.
They said that Toyota Ireland hold driver safety in the upmost regard and have in fact recently edited this advertisement it order to align it to their commitment to safety, and had removed any scenes that could have in any way been considered to show drivers not giving due attention to the road. The editing was also done to take account of any road safety sensitivities that may be present in the Irish market.
The advertisers also said that having reviewed the current edited edition of the advertisement against the complaints received that the actions of those featured in the cars was not illegal. They also wished to point out that the various drivers depicted did not remove their hands from the wheel of the car.
The advertisers said that while the setting for the footage was Prague, the road signs had been changed, and the roads were devoid of normal traffic. The story, therefore, appeared in an environment which had not depicted normal driving circumstances. The said that the Yaris was a small car and the message contained within their advertising was that it was capable of being driven around narrow streets. They said that the car had adhered to the speed limits and due to the nature of city driving it had constantly travelled at a low speed.
Finally the advertisers said that it had been their intention to portray the driving of a Yaris as a pleasant and fun experience. Furthermore they said they would never intentionally use advertising that could be considered distasteful or disrespectful of road safety and given the concerns raised by one of the complainants they had already edited the international piece of creative to demonstrate their commitment to road safety.
The Secretariat asked the Road Safety Authority (RSA) for their opinion on the original advertisement. The RSA, while noting that the advertisement had been subsequently edited, said that in hindsight the advertisers could have been a little bit more careful in how they depicted the driver of the car, to avoid the possibility of driver distraction. They did not consider, however, that road safety was being compromised in the amended version of the advertisement.
Complaints upheld against original advertisement.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints, the edited version of the advertisement and the advertisers’ response. They also noted the opinion given by the Road Safety Authority. They noted that while the original advertisement had featured a driver with her eyes closed, that this section had been edited by the advertisers.
The Committee accepted that while it had not been the intention of the advertisers to
condone unsafe driving practices that the behaviour portrayed in the original advertisement depicted unsafe practices which could very well lead to a lapse in a driver’s concentration. In the circumstances they upheld the complaints in relation to the original version of the advertisement under Sections 2.2 and 2.29 of the Code.”
As the advertising had been amended no further action was required in this case.