On the whole, I don’t really like car adverts. They’re often either horrifically cringeworthy, or tell you next to nothing about the car or company they’re trying to promote. However, when Honda commissions an advert, the result is usually something clever, slick and worth a watch. This is particularly true of the company’s ‘Keep Up’ advert, which came up in conversation in the CT office only a few days ago, after Honda’s latest advert dropped. Disappointingly, that ‘Keep Up’ advert - created by Wieden & Kennedy - has just been banned from our screens after it received two complaints. Two!
The thing is, if the Advertising Standards Agency finds anything that falls foul of the stringent Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice Code, it doesn’t matter how many complaints brought the advert to the organisation’s attention. In fact, only one of the complaints was upheld. It alleged that the “ad encouraged dangerous or irresponsible driving” due to speed apparently being a central theme to the advert (something the BCAP Code prohibits), by encouraging viewers to keep up with the fast-paced captions by speed reading.
In response to the complaint, Honda said that the advert was supposed to “inspire people to push their perceived limits” rather than encourage speeding, but that wasn’t enough to stop the ASA from ruling that the advert cannot be shown again on TV in its current form. The organisation said:
“While the ad did not include realistic depictions of the vehicles being driven in a dangerous manner, we considered, when taken altogether, the fast changing on-screen text, references to “pushing yourself” and “going faster”, the scenes of the cars, sound effects and accompanying sound track was likely to leave viewers with the impression that speed was the central message of the ad.”
The other, rejected complaint went even further, suggesting that the advert “demonstrated the handling characteristics of the black car and two red cars outside the context of safety.” More bizarrely, the complainant was “also concerned that the scene of the boot dropping shut and the “fast motion” scenes, if emulated in real-life could cause serious or fatal injury.” Yes, really. Some people have too much time on their hands…