Advertiser defies ruling from ad watchdog

By By Alexandra Roach | 6 August 2012 print ad.

The ad watchdog has banned a print ad for joint government and insurance industry initiative, Car Safe, for showing illegal behaviour, but the advertiser has refused to amend the campaign.

The ad from the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, which aims to reduce vehicle theft, shows a man and a woman riding on a bicycle, with the tagline “imagine life without your car”. The bike is too small for both passengers and the woman is perched precariously on the bike's parcel rack.

The Advertising Standards Bureau has upheld a complaint arguing the ad denigrated cyclists and promoted behaviour “which is illegal”. Despite this, the advertiser has refused to modify the advertisement.

“The advertisement shows a person carrying a second person on the back on a bicycle which is illegal,” wrote the complainant. “The ad ... [is a] denigration of cycling and cyclists.”

Car Safe stated the ad is “obviously satirical” and “does not promote the behavior (sic) claimed by the complainant”.

“[The ad] is in fact clearly conveying the behaviour as something you wouldn’t want to do,” wrote Car Safe. “A reasonable member of the community would see it as [satirical], which we consider renders the complainant’s claim as inherently frivolous.”

The ASB said the depiction of the woman riding on the bike's parcel rack showed behaviour in violation of Australia's national road rules as she “is not sitting in an approved seat”.

“Although the couple are wearing helmets, the representation of the woman in clothing that may be considered inappropriate for cycling is of great concern,” wrote the ASB. “There is a very serious and genuine community concern regarding road safety issues and issues of cycle safety.

“The connection between the promotion of a community awareness of theft prevention and the relationship to then having to use a bike as alternative transport was not evident and that the impact of the important message was lost.”

The ASB upheld the complaint, but the advertiser has refused to modify or discontinue the ad.

“We have nothing to add to our previous correspondence,” Car Safe said in response to the ruling.

The ad remains unaltered.

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