The Advertising Standards Authority has placed a 9pm restriction on a “shocking” television campaign for Volkswagen’s Golf range after receiving 1,066 complaints, the fifth-highest number ever.
The watchdog says the Matrix-style ad, which was created by DDB London and shows a car designer encountering and fighting a series of clones of himself, is likely to cause “serious offence or distress” if shown earlier in the evening and must not air when children might be watching.
The watchdog adds that the opening punch is “shocking” and the violence “realistic in appearance”.
Volkswagen says the ads are not intended to condone violence or cause offence and that the “creative techniques” used distance the action from reality.
It says that the 100-second and two edited 40-second versions were given a post-7.30pm restriction by Clearcast, adding the longer spot had not been shown before 11pm.
Complaints that the cinema version of the ad was unsuitable to be shown before 12A and 15 rated movies and that they are likely to be copied by children were dismissed by the watchdog.
The Golf ad is the fifth-most complained about campaign ever behind The Christian Party’s “There definitely is a God” bus campaign with 1,170 complaints, a British Safety Council campaign about condoms that received 1,192 complaints and a campaign for shopping channel Auctionworld with 1,360 challenges. The most complained-about ad ever is the 2005 campaign for KFC Zinger Crunch Salad, which received 1,671 complaints from people saying scenes of call centre workers talking with their mouths full would encourage bad habits.