Honda ad banned for promoting speed over safety

Honda has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for an ad that focused too much on the speed of the car, although it was cleared of promoting dangerous driving.

Honda’s ad shows its latest models in conjunction with fast-paced on-screen text, which includes the lines “Suddenly you find you can go faster than you thought” and “Keep pushing and get to better faster”.

The ASA received two complaints from the public in response to the ad. One complainant said that the ad encouraged dangerous driving because the speed of the cars was a central element to the ad.

Another complainant stated that as the cars were shown outside the context of safety, it encouraged irresponsible driving by encouraging viewers to break the speed limit.

Honda’s defence

Honda responded by stating that the ad was created to inspire people to push their perceived limits using a speed-reading technique. In doing so, it challenged viewers to catch up with the increased speed of the text appearing on screen.

The brand said any reference to speed did not relate to anything other than speed-reading the on-screen text.

Honda also said that they took great care to ensure that any messaging about the cars was not related to speed, for example the claim “push to reach new places” was about exploration and “push to do new things” was about freedom.

The ruling

The ASA ruled that while the ad did not include realistic depictions of the vehicles being driven in a dangerous manner, the fast changing on-screen text, references to “pushing yourself” and “going faster”, the scenes of the cars, sound effects and accompanying sound track were likely to leave viewers with the impression that speed was the central message of the ad.

The ad was therefore found in breach of the authority’s code, which states that speed must not be the main message of an ad.

However, the authority did recognise that the ad’s setting did not represent a recognisable or realistic portrayal of real-life driving conditions, thereby concluding that it did not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving.

The ad cannot be broadcast again in its current form, and Honda has been urged not to make speed the central element of its advertising in future.