Aviva campaign designed to ‘make Britain’s roads safer’ banned for promoting dangerous driving

Both Aviva and Renault have been hit with bans after the ASA ruled that both had glamourised dangerous driving with “irresponsible” advertising campaigns.

An Aviva campaign designed to “make Britain’s roads safer” has been banned by the ASA for encouraging unsafe driving.

The ‘Good Thinking’ campaign, which was created by Adam&EveDDB, featured ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard disguised as a rogue taxi driver who disturbs unwitting passengers with his unsafe driving. The customers are then shocked as Coulthard demands a payment for the ride before revealing his true identity.

The idea behind the campaign was that nobody should be forced to pay for another person’s bad driving. It also promoted how Brits can save £170 a year by using the free Aviva Drive app, which encourages safe driving.

But despite Aviva’s best intentions, 58 members of the public challenged whether three variations of this ad actually encouraged irresponsible driving.

Aviva argued that the ads depicted an “exaggerated version” of the type of driving its app set out to discourage. The ads were filmed on roads that were closed off to the public and in a safe environment supervised by professional stunt drivers and co-ordinators. The ads also featured messages warning viewers they were witnessing extreme driving.

However, the ASA overruled this defence and has banned the three ads, which were set to continue running until the end of October.

The ASA says: “The scenes primarily focused on the high speed and stunts performed by the car, overshadowing the ‘warning’ and ‘experiment’ on-screen texts that appeared at the start of the ad along with the ad’s underlying message that safe drivers could benefit from a saving with Aviva’s car insurance.

“Furthermore, the manner in which the car was driven was extremely reckless and given it was performed in a regular vehicle and on public roads these were scenes that could potentially be emulated by viewers, putting themselves and others at a significant risk of danger by driving hazardously and in an irresponsible manner.”

Aviva says it is “disappointed” with the verdict. A spokesman adds: “We wanted to produce an advert which presented this idea in a completely different way, but still stayed true to the principles of safer driving by encouraging people to use our app which monitors their driving skills and rewards safer motorists.

“However, we now appreciate that some viewers felt the advert may have sent out the wrong message.”

Renault joins the club

Aviva isn’t the only brand to have an ad banned by the ASA for promoting dangerous driving this week, with Renault also found guilty of the same offence.

A member of the public complained about a social video by Renault promoting its Alpine range of cars, which showed one of the cars driving across a mountain road accelerating, braking and skidding around corners despite the icy conditions.

Renault argued the ad’s focus was not on speed but about mastering the driving on curvy roads, and demonstrating agility and handling. It said the fact the Twitter video made clear the driver was a racing professional meant it was obvious to viewers the kind of driving shown shouldn’t be emulated. It also offered to edit the ad.

But this defence wasn’t strong enough. The ASA said the ad “implied excessive speed while encouraging and condoning irresponsible and potentially dangerous driving.”

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