WRVS, a charity that represents the UK’s older population, has hit back at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for failing to uphold a complaint about a Mazda ad that it claims promoted “ageist stereotypes”.
The execution, which ran in national newspapers and online in June, shows an older women trying to give directions to a younger man in a car, and suggests that if drivers “want directions you can trust” they should turn to a Mazda car with free satellite navigation.
The ASA had advised its council that the execution “was likely to be seen as mocking the mental capabilities of elderly people” and “likely to cause widespread offence”, therefore breaking the ASA decency code. But ASA says it will not uphold the complaint.
The charity “feels let down by the decision”. WRVS chief executive Mark Lever says: “We’re very disappointed with the ASA’s decision, particularly as the ASA executive had recommended to its council that Mazda’s ad did break the ASA decency code.”
He adds the ad reinforces negative stereotypes of older people as being “confused and unreliable” and that the decision makes it acceptable for advertisers to portray older people in this way.
Lever says that the ASA should update the code to specifically mention age. It currently asks advertisers to take particular care to avoid causing offence because of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
Mazda was criticised by the ASA in June for a press execution. It was ruled irresponsible and said to promote aggressive driving (MW June 22). However, another Mazda ad featuring mannequins becoming aroused while in a Mazda, which attracted 425 complaints last year, was cleared by the ASA.