Volkswagen ad banned for promoting 'reckless' driving

By Jamie-Lee Carter | 31 October 2018

An ad for Volkswagen has been banned by the ad watchdog after it was deemed “unsafe” due to the portrayal of dangerous and reckless driving.

Created by DDB Sydney, the tongue-in-cheek ad was an attempt to portray the vehicle’s power in a way that doesn’t breech advertising codes of conduct due to the stunts being fictionalised.

Despite the ad’s disclaimer that it is “filmed on closed road under controlled conditions,” Ad Standards argues that it depicts a “realistic image of a vehicle in a regional area overtaking a road train” and that the driving is “reckless and would breech road rules".

A complaint issued to the Ads Standards board says the ad “could encourage road users to attempt dangerous overtaking actions” and is “irresponsible advertising taken by Volkswagen”.

Another complaint slammed the scene portraying the Amarok overtaking two road trains, saying: “This practice would be extremely dangerous and totally illegal under the current motoring laws in Australia”.

In defence of the ad, Volkswagen argues that it features a “fictitious advertising director who has an unrealistic and imaginative vision for the most impressive car advertisement.” The brand argues the slogan “too powerful for TV” is deployed within that very context.

“Every time the director concocts a live action sequence which is “too powerful”, the advertisement cuts away from the real world to what are clearly imaginary scenarios,” says Volkswagen.

“The ad is self-aware, humorously choreographed, and fanciful, whole at the same time respectful of the industry codes, which regulate advertising content.”

The ad watchdog concluded that despite the presence of a disclaimer, it does not warrant the portrayal of unsafe driving.

“Although the advertisement had fantastical elements, the depiction of the vehicle starting to overtake the road trains was a realistic scenario that would constitute unsafe and reckless driving,” ruled the board.

“Further, the depiction of the driver choosing to leave the road and overtake both trucks on the shoulder of the road depicts driving which is reckless and would breach road rules.”

Volkswagen has confirmed that the 60 second TV ad has been discontinued, with modified ads set to re-appear on air on 5 November.

“We regret if any members of the public were offended by any content in the advertisement and take this opportunity to assure the Ad Standards community panel and the public that this was not our intention,” says Volkswagen.

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

Read more about these related brands, agencies and people

comments powered by Disqus