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Ad watchdog slaps Nissan again for SSS commercial

Nissan again forced to edit Pulsar SSS TVC after complaints to ad watchdog

2 Aug 2013

THIRD time appears to be the charm for Nissan Australia, with a re-edit of its controversial new Pulsar SSS television commercial now on the air.

The company was recently forced by Australia’s advertising watchdog to edit its TVC, featuring a man racing to get his ‘pregnant’ partner to hospital, for a second time, following continued complaints the ad depicted unsafe and reckless driving.

The commercial for Nissan’s 140kW/240Nm Pulsar SSS turbo hatch depicts the male character driving the hatch through city streets at speed on the way to a hospital, while maneuvering down tight urban alleys, and driving closely behind cars.

At the end of the commercial, the Pulsar is seen skidding to a stop directly out the front of the hospital, a spot usually reserved for ambulances and other emergency vehicles, before the couple get out of the car and enter the hospital.

Once in the hospital, it becomes clear the couple have undertaken a time trial to see how long it takes to drive from their home to the hospital, where it is revealed the young woman is not yet pregnant.

Some of the complaints to the ASB regarding the first cut of the ad included “I would recommend all these involved in the making and promotion of these ads visit the accident trauma centre at the Alfred.” “The advertisement promotes unsafe driving.” “The advertisement promotes driving behaviour (rapid acceleration/deceleration/changes of direction) that is counter to sound medical advice regarding the carriage of heavily pregnant women in motor vehicles.” The ASB upheld the complaints in June, determining the ad depicted unsafe driving while breaching the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industry’s advertising code, while Nissan responded by requesting that the complaints be dismissed.

ASB’s case report into the ad highlighted concerns raised over the ad’s depiction of the woman asking the driver to drive faster (“Go, go go!”) and the time trial element the story-line.

The ASB board also commented that “we do not see what speed the car is driving at however the Board considered that these audio effects in conjunction with the visual images of the vehicle driving in a manner which suggests they are in a hurry are suggestive of driving which is not appropriate for the urban environment depicted and is unsafe and reckless.” Following this outcome, Nissan re-edited the ad by lowering the vehicle’s engine noise, removing the words “quick, quick, quick” and “go, go, go” and removing the screeching noise of the vehicle coming to a stop outside the hospital, while it added a disclaimer stating the ad was “filmed under controlled conditions.” Despite Nissan’s edits, the ASB received further complaints relating to the Pulsar “hurtling along city roads at great speed with seemingly little regard for its surroundings” while depicting “aggressive or competitive driving behaviour”.

Again the complaints were upheld, forcing Nissan to re-edit the ad for a third time.

Nissan removed a number of shots, including any reference to a “personal best” time, footage of the Pulsar driving closely behind another vehicle, some of the shots in the alleyway, the stopwatch ‘beep’ sound and vehicle revving sounds.

Nissan also confirmed that parts of the ad, including shots of the couple kissing, were removed to slow down the driving footage, “even though the footage shown was already below applicable speed limits.” The third edit of the Pulsar ad continues to air on television and is available to view on Nissan’s YouTube channel.

An official statement from Nissan Australia said it accepted the ASB’s decision after modifying the ad accordingly, adding that it “takes both road safety and its advertising obligations seriously”.

“We consider that the current version of our television commercial has addressed all of the issues raised by the ASB and complies with the provisions of both the FCAI Voluntary Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising and the AANA Code of Ethics.

“We do not believe that the commercial in any way depicts unsafe or unlawful driving.” It’s not the first time Nissan Australia has had to defend itself against complaints to the ASB, with an ad for the Dualis hatch coming under fire in 2010.

ASB investigated complaints relating to an ad depicted the Dualis being driven through empty streets as giant paintballs were fired at the car, with the vehicle forced to dodge them and at one point driving off the top of a building and rolling in mid-air.

Despite the concerns of unsafe driving, the ASB dismissed the complaint, allowing Nissan to air the ad.

Fellow Japanese car-maker Suzuki found itself in hot water last year after airing an ad depicting its Suzuki Swift Sport driving around a multi-level car-park, with close-up shots of the accelerator being pushed and tachometer revs.

The ASB upheld the complaints and Suzuki modified the ad by removing to offending footage.

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