Keep your eyes on the road? An ASA review

3:39 PM, 14 November 2016

Is there a bump on the road with this Spark tv advert?

A Spark of safety matters - an ASA review

A Spark TV advert recently showed a man named Big Tony driving a car with his daughter beside him. They are singing and occasionally look briefly at each other as they hit the same notes.

A complaint was made that the man driving and singing was not watching the road as he turned to face the girl a number of times. In other words, showing unsafe driving practice.

This is a good example of where advertising may draw complaint outside of the commercial message or product category. It is a useful reminder to all advertisers to holistically consider code compliance.

Was the car singalong deemed safe?

The complaint was considered under two rules of the Code of Ethics -- the overarching code that applies to all advertising. The specific rules considered were:

  • Principle 4: All advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and to society; and
  • Safety: Advertisements should not, unless justifiable on educational or social grounds, contain any visual presentation or any description of dangerous or illegal practices or situations which encourage a disregard for safety.

The advertiser said that during production and filming of the advertisement particular attention was paid to safe driving practices.

They also noted that the New Zealand Transport Agency's guidelines on driving safely state anything that diverts a driver's attention for more than two seconds can significantly increase the likelihood of a crash or near crash. It was argued that the driving behaviour shown was reasonable and typical and would not be found to be in breach of New Zealand laws.

As a result, the Complaints Board decided the advertisement did not breach either Principle 4 of the Code of Ethics or Rule 12, and accordingly ruled to Not Uphold the complaint.

For more details on the ASA decision, click here.

In need of help with a complaint filed with the ASA? ANZA is here to help Members with submissions to the ASA Complaints Board. Don't hesitate to get in touch -

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