Login Or Subscribe?
Home Rulings VWSA / VW GOLF GTD / D SPARROW / 2017-6356F

VWSA / VW GOLF GTD / D SPARROW / 2017-6356F

Mr Sparrow lodged a consumer complaint against the respondent’s advertising on Facebook promoting its "#newgolf GTD”.

The post appeared on 19 July 2017, featured an image of the vehicle and read "With the #newgolf GTD, you’ll be staying in the fast lane for longer. Now available”.

Complaint

The complainant took issue with the reference to "… the fast lane …” arguing that South Africa does not have a "fast lane” where different speed limits apply. The principle of "keep left and pass right” is relevant to the local context, but speed limits apply universally. The right-hand lane is intended to allow people to pass slower vehicles in other lanes. 

The advertisement plays on the mentality that has prevailed on South African roads, and perpetuates the notion that the right-hand lanes are "fast” lanes. The complainant submitted that if the advertisement referred to remaining "in the right lane for longer” or "overtaking a lot more” it would be correct.

Relevant Clauses of the Code of Advertising Practice

In light of the complaint the following clauses of the Code were taken into account:
  • Section II, Clause 4.2.1 – Misleading claims
  • Section II, Clause 13 – Safety

Response

The respondent submitted that its targeted customer would be able to lawfully drive the advertised vehicle, meaning that all legislated requirements have been met. This presupposes compliance with speed limits and traffic rules, and no reasonable person would interpret the advertisement as a suggestion that the rules of the road should be or could be disobeyed. It added that it was not a member of the ASA, but was satisfied that its response adequately resolved the matter.

ASA Directorate Ruling

The ASA Directorate considered all the relevant documentation submitted by the respective parties.

The dispute seems to lie on the border between arguing that incorrect terminology would mislead people into assuming that different speed limits apply to the outer lanes, and arguing that the advertisement encourages speeding. The Directorate will address these issues collectively.

Clause 4.2.1 of Section II states "Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation which, directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity, inaccuracy, exaggerated claim or otherwise, is likely to mislead the consumer”.

Clause 13 of Section II states "Advertisements should not without reason, justifiable on educational or social grounds, contain any visual presentation or any description of dangerous practices or of situations which show a disregard for safety. Special care should be taken in advertisements directed towards or depicting children or young people”.

It should firstly be pointed out that the image in the advertisement is that of a stationary Golf GTD, which arguably negates any argument that speeding or reckless behaviour is encouraged. This negates any notion that the advertising promotes unsafe driving.

Secondly, the Directorate is not convinced that the reference to "… staying in the fast lane for longer …” constitutes either an encouragement to speed, or creates a misleading impression with a hypothetical reasonable person.

While the annual carnage on South African roads is no trivial matter, it is not reasonable to argue that licensed drivers would be misled by the reference to a "fast lane” to an extent that they believe speeding or exceeding speeding limits is encouraged or acceptable. Similarly, licensed drivers would be acutely aware that the speed limits are imposed across the entire road they are travelling on, unlike the international examples cited by the complainant.

As such, the Directorate is not convinced that the advertisement is misleading to a hypothetical reasonable, licensed, person. Similarly, the Directorate does not believe that the advertisement encourages or condones unsafe driving behaviour.

The advertisement is therefore not found to be in contravention of Clause 4.2.1 and Clause 13 of Section II of the Code.

The complaint is dismissed.

Previous Ruling Next Ruling

© 2017 ASA. All rights reservedDeveloped and Maintained by JHNet Web Development