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Ad watchdog kicks desert sand at BMW

Cinema ad for new 2 Series falls foul of code of conduct, ASB says

28 Apr 2014

BMW has fallen foul of Australia’s advertising watchdog for showing cinema-goers vision of its 2 Series coupe slipping and sliding about in the middle of a desert.

The Advertising Standards Bureau has upheld a complaint that the cinema ad, similar to one shown on television but edited differently, depicted unsafe driving in breach of a voluntary car industry advertising code of conduct, but said that even though it showed a tachometer up near the rev limit, it did not show a driver breaking the speed limit.

According to the bureau, the 45-second ad was for “the all-new BMW 2 Series Coupe, which shows the car driven on public highways in the US as well as public and private unsealed roads in a dusty desert environment”.

“The advertisement commenced with the vehicle being accelerated such that it lost traction of its driving wheels, then accelerating at speed and preceded to display 360s and significant loss of traction, typical of hoon activity,” the complaint to the ASB says.

“I consider it portrays an unfavourable message, contrary to safe and sensible driving.”

Unfortunately for BMW, the bureau agreed with part of the complaint.

In its defence, BMW Australia said the car was not shown being driven above the legal speed limit, with no image of the speedometer shown.

“Instead, any sensation of ‘speed’ was delivered by deliberate editing of a high standard (including by panning or rotating the footage) to create dramatic visual effect with alternative rock background music track sourced from local Australian band Kings of the North and sped up in pace from the original stock footage to match the musical beat and also shortened in duration for commercial (cost) reasons,” it said.

“We understand that footage of the vehicle on unsealed dusty desert roads was shot on private property, with deliberate camera angles, possible weather and lighting effects (including clever use of a low angle sun) employed to add visual impact.

“We would also add that these creative measures are likely to have been exaggerated from the viewer’s perspective in a cinema environment with Dolby surround sound and high definition, super-size cinema screens,” BMW Australia said.

However, while the ASB found that the ad did not depict excessive speed, it did show the 2 Series being driven in a reckless manner as the engine revved and the wheels spun, leaving black marks on the road.

BMW said the complaint was filed at the end of a cinema-based campaign for the car.

“It is unfortunate that this complaint has come about at the conclusion of a long and otherwise successful campaign,” it said in its submission to the ASB.

“BMW does not consider this complaint or its allegations to be substantiated in any way and accordingly BMW submits that this application be dismissed summarily as a frivolous complaint given the cinematic environment.”

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