In one of the stranger decisions to come out of the Advertising Standards Authority, one of the adverts for Audi's latest R8 has been banned from screens in the UK, despite the car only appearing for a couple of seconds in the 60-second video.
The ad, which resembles the one above, arguably shows the relationship between spirited driving and driver engagement. But at no point is speed every referenced or noted. Volkswagen Group UK reportedly claimed to the ASA that the ad is meant to center around the car's new ceramic brake package, and added that the car never actually travels faster than 30mph in the vision — but that's not how the ASA saw things.
The full ASA verdict can be read here, however we advise anyone game enough to read it and its series of long and thoroughly tedious legalese verbage to not operate any heavy machinery within the 30 minutes following the read, considering the risk of falling asleep.
“We considered that it was unclear from the visuals in the ad how fast the car was going, as it was not easy to interpret the speed of the car from the tunnel light reflections, and that viewers' primary understanding of the car's speed in this section of the ad would come from the sound of the acceleration,” they said. Yawwwwn.
Photo / Ted Baghurst
“Several upward changes of gear could be heard and we considered that, without clear visual context to clarify what speed and acceleration was represented by the sounds, it was likely to be interpreted by viewers as quick acceleration, leading to more than moderate speed. The ad then showed the car, but as it was presented in slow motion it was not possible to tell at what speed it was travelling.
“Also, it was no longer accompanied by the sound of the engine and gear changes, so could not give further context to the sounds heard during the eye scene, and therefore no comparison for the viewer was possible. In light of this, while we acknowledged that the scenes in which the car was visible did not show it being driven fast, we considered that the presentation of the ad gave an implication of speed and acceleration.
“The ad featured the car coming to a halt on a racetrack, after sequences with prominent engine and gear noises, and ambiguous visual treatment of speed. We therefore considered that the overall presentation was of a car coming to a stop after being driven at speed and that the impression given was not one of road safety in general but that the R8 was equipped with brakes sufficient to handle the power and speed previously demonstrated. We therefore did not consider that the presentation of information about the ceramic brakes constituted a context of safety.”
Photo / Ted Baghurst
Get through all that OK? If you've gotten this far please feel free to give yourself a pat on the back. You've earned it.
... Anyway. To cut that long story short, the ASA basically called BS on Volkswagen Group UK's claim that the dilating eyeball and flashing reflecting lights were indicative of an ad based around a safety measure (the brakes), and instead labelled it speeding and a driver daring to have fun.
Of all the quotes in that extraordinarily long-winded ASA report, it's the closing one that lingers.
“We told Volkswagen Group UK Ltd to ensure that future ads did not demonstrate power, acceleration or handling characteristics except in a clear context of safety and without the suggestion of excitement.”
Yes. You can turn on the television tonight and watch images of terrorist attacks, swearing, domestic violence, or even that gnarly footage of the weightlifting dude in Rio who dislocated his arm. But Audi can't tell us that its R8 is exciting. Sigh.