The ad, created by McCann Erickson, depicted two stationary cars in an empty warehouse with the text: “Astra VXR Shortens Straights. Straightens Corners”.
It prompted a complaint claiming the ad was “irresponsible” because it “condoned and encouraged speeding and dangerous driving”.
General Motors (GM), which manufactures the model, said both cars in the ads were deliberately shown as stationary to ensure the creative did not suggest speed. To further enforce the point, text at the footer of the ad stated “Vauxhall does not condone irresponsible driving”.
The car marque said “Shortens Straights” referred to the driving experience of the vehicle, which was made more pleasurable and less arduous due to its suspension design. “Straightens Corners” referred to the chassis technology, which provides safer cornering, GM claimed.
The Advertising Standard Authority agreed “Straightens Corners” would be seen by viewers as a claim about the car’s handling but said the claim “Shortens Straights” would be interpreted to mean the vehicle made straight stretches of road shorter by covering them more quickly.
It ruled this therefore made speed the main message of the ad, which breaches the CAP Code requiring brands must not make speed or acceleration the main message of their marketing communications.
The ASA also added the inclusion of the “Shorten Straights” claim “condoned irresponsible driving” and ruled the ad must not appear again.