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					07/505 DECISION Meeting 13 November 2007 Complaint 07/505 Complainants: P. Chinery & A. Dick Advertisement: Land Transport New Zealand

Complaint: A television advertisement for Land Transport New Zealand shows a large sedan vehicle traveling on a deserted New Zealand road. As the vehicle approaches corners, an image similar to a land mine appears on the road and the car drives over it. The voice-over in the advertisement says “When you push your speed on corners, there is less room for error. There is more force taking you off the road and less keeping you on it. And there is no warning.” The car is seen accelerating along the road, speeding up to the corners. A raft of landmine images appear on the final corner, the driver loses control and the car crashes. The final image is of the car, having crashed through a fence and rolled down a bank, resting on its roof with the tyres slowly turning. The advertisement ends with the words “SLOW DOWN” on the screen along with the logos of Land Transport New Zealand and the New Zealand Police.

Complainant, P. Chinery, said: “Type: Television Where: Road safety. 26-9-07 between 7-7.30pm (at a guess on date) Who: LTSA, New Zealand Police, ACC. Product: Road Safety - Dangers of Cornering Complaint In accordance to the Advocacy Principles, Code 11, line 1, the advert in question displays a late model vehicle (Ford Falcon XR6, altho from some of my friends descriptions there are no badges saying this) driving quickly in an isolated winding road. The soundtrack accompanying the vehicle is that of a "V8". The opinions expressed in over voice is of describing that as speed increases through corners its is like a landmine, you wont know its there until, without warning.... It is at this point

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that the vehicle undergoes a mid corner braking maneuver causing the vehicle to begin to lose control, (shot taken looking in a "chase" camera view) and on a different camera angle looking across a paddock at the vehicle, it begins a slow lazy slide, (in opposite direction of the braking slide), ending with the vehicle spinning 180 degrees and sliding off the road backwards, rolling down a bank and ending on its roof. The opinion expressed of speed through corners is backed up by showing the result of (by the advertisers opinion) excessive speed. The complaint lies in that the vehicle used has been illegally modified to undergo the loss of control, the vehicle brakes mid-corner and locks the wheels. The vehicle (if true in just using a Ford Falcon XR6, debaged so it can represent any late model vehicle) still is a late model vehicle. Late model vehicles have ABS systems in place to stop locking of wheels and prevent such slides demonstrated. Also, the slide under scrutiny, was created by switching off the traction control. This is as easy as pushing a dash mounted button to disable. But, to disable the ABS systems involved a manual unplugging of the ABS sensors, or bypassing the ABS unit. (for the purpose of the exercise, unplugging the sensors is the cheapest and effective way for the advert) In Warrant of Fitness, a vehicle fitted with ABS shall remain with ABS. Removal or disabling the system is an instant fail, and a LVTT certification is needed for the vehicle. Removal of the ABS systems is intended for Motorsport Vehicles eg rally cars as they have to use public roads to travel to there events. The Vehicle, was not in a Motorsport venue or travelling to or from an event (no flameproof overalls, were shown), and in interpretation the road used was a typical New Zealand back road. For my opinion, and summary, a Road Safety Advert should use a vehicle that is up to Warrant of Fitness standard or the advert in question is merely showing how dangerous having a vehicle that is not up to the Warrant of Fitness Standards can be, not how unsafe driving practice can be. Which is misleading to the public. Thank you for your time.” Complainant, A. Dick, said: “Advertisement Type: Television Where: The advertisement in question is for LAND TRANSPORT NZ and appears frequently on TV1, TV2 and TV3. It is a high rotate advertisement. It is the "Land Mine" advertisement Who: LAND TRANSPORT NZ Product: "ROAD SAFETY" Complaint I submit that this advertisement is wrong in the message it gives, it is misleading and it is seriously flawed. The advertisement shows a Ford Falcon XR6 car being driven on a country road, land mines appear out of the road surface, the driver loses control on a corner and crashes. The car in this "road safety" advertisement is clearly a Ford Falcon XR6 even though all badges have been removed. This is one of the mainstream cars on the NZ market and to say that it is not immediately identifiable is quite wrong. There is also a very clear link between this Land Transport advertisement and a Ford Motor Company advertisement for the Falcon XR6 - the two advertisements are so similar

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in style and content that they can easily be confused. This has obviously been done deliberately. This is so blatant that there is probably a case for plagiarism, but that is Ford's issue, not mine. The Ford Falcon XR6 comes with a safety system called "Stability Control" which is a computerised, electronic system that intervenes when sensors tell the system the driver is in danger of losing control of the car. International research in the US, Europe and Britain has shown that stability control can reduce the number of single car crashes where the driver loses control on a bend by as much as 45%. This research is proven and it is widely accepted and promoted internationally. Stability control which is fitted to the Ford Falcon XR6 is almost certain to have intervened and corrected the situation shown in this advertisement and thus the crash would never have occurred. I submit that the Land Transport advertisement sets out to create a link with the Ford Falcon XR6 ad and that the message it gives is totally misleading in that this car is unlikely to be found in this crash situation. It also seriously damages the value of stability control as a valuable road safety tool - one of the most valuable road safety tools since seat belts were introduced. I have no objection to the message of the advertisement in that care should be taken on corners, but to use any car that is fitted with stability control to show this is totally wrong. In other countries road safety authorities actively encourage buyers of new cars to add stability control to their options when buying a car if it is not fitted as standard. In NZ, Land Transport NZ has been totally silent on the value of this system and I find it a total insult to denigrate the value of stability control in this "land mine" commercial. Although I am the editor of a motoring magazine, I make this submission as a private individual and I have nothing to do with the Ford Motor Company. Ford know nothing of this submission.” The Chairman ruled that the following provisions were relevant: Code of Ethics Rule 2: Truthful Presentation - Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation or create an overall impression which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim is misleading or deceptive, is likely to deceive or mislead the consumer, makes false and misleading representation, abuses the trust of the consumer or exploits his/her lack of experience or knowledge. (Obvious hyperbole, identifiable as such, is not considered to be misleading). Rule 11: Advocacy Advertising - Expression of opinion in advocacy advertising is an essential and desirable part of the functioning of a democratic society. Therefore such opinions may be robust. However, opinion should be clearly distinguishable from factual information. The identity of an advertiser in matters of public interest or political issue should be clear.

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The Advertiser, Land Transport New Zealand, also on behalf of the Agency, Clemenger BBDO, said: “Thank you for your letter in which you ask for Land Transport New Zealand's comments in regards to the complaint you have received about our speed advertisement Landmines. My reply is also on behalf of our advertising agency Clemenger BBDO. My apologies that our response is so late. This advertisement is part of our national advertising road safety campaign focusing on a serious road safety and major public health issue, speeding; speeding drivers cause over 120 deaths and 2,600 injuries each year. The advertisement is not about the car but about the driving. The primary objectives are to use physics and reason to demonstrate the dangers of inappropriate speed and to specifically make a real link between speed on corners and the risk of crashes. A vast number [58%] of all speed-related crashes occur on corners. The voiceover "When you push your speed on corners, there's less room for error... " the endline "Slow Down" and the story make it clear that if a driver is travelling too fast around a corner he will easily and without warning lose control of the vehicle. At no point in the advertisement do we imply that the car itself is unsafe, in fact, when the driver wants to brake he does so successfully. The advertisement does not distinguish between vehicle make or capability but does use a reasonably late model vehicle to attract the appropriate target audience - male drivers aged between 25-40 years who habitually drive over the speed limit. Additional features such as electronic stability control can indeed improve the stability of a car when manoeuvering but do not change the laws of physics, and once traction is lost the car is beyond the driver's control to hold on the road. Active safety technology can only go so far in keeping people safe, the rest comes down to motorists making sound driving decisions. This advertisement was tested after production with the target audience and the primary reaction to the advertising was not about the vehicle or its capability [or lack thereof], rather it was about the physics of speed on corners:
"There is a direct correlation between speed and danger" "Speed increases your risk of crashing on a corner" "Slow down, don't push it so hard, when you come to a corner" "Point is well made to watch speed on corners"

Every effort was taken to portray the driving and crash as realistically as possible within the controlled environment of a film set. Based on the speed the car was going, the car could not be driven by a stunt driver without compromising his safety. The car needed to be remote-controlled for the final corner (this is common practice for filming speed ads) but every effort was made to portray the crash as realistically as possible, based on the known facts of speed and with careful guidance from crash experts.

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The very nature of filming advertisements means producing a mock-up that is as close as possible to real life in a controlled environment and without compromising anyone's safety. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.”

Television Commercial Approvals Bureau (TVCAB) said on behalf of the media: “This advertisement spells out a simple safety message - speeding around corners is dangerous. To emphasise the message, the advertisement uses the analogy of a minefield to accentuate the hazards of fast cornering. In terms of being absolute and literal, in showing the physics of motion, and motoring, the car's actions may be questioned - but if so, then so too should the appearance of land mines in the road. This is a metaphoric representation of the key factor in many serious road accidents -- going too fast around corners. This is not a documentary on 100 ways to ignore stupid driving practises. This is a graphic demonstration of the horrendous outcome of many accidents that occur on corners. The TVCAB appreciates that the complainant clearly knows his cars, but the hyperbolic nature of this advertisement is used to heighten awareness of the dangers of corning too fast. The actions of the car do not have to be literal or factual for the message to be true. The car itself may be a doctored stunt car especially modified for this advertisement. It is not misleading the consumer in any relevant way to dramatise through photography and special effects, the consequences of cornering too fast. This is an advocacy advertisement, with the Police and Land Transport Authority properly identified at the end of a very important safety message to drivers. There is no basis to uphold this complaint.”

Deliberation The Complaints Board perused the correspondence relevant to the complaint and watched the television advertisement. It noted Complainant, P. Chinery, said: “…The complaint lies in that the vehicle used has been illegally modified to undergo the loss of control, the vehicle brakes mid-corner and locks the wheels….”. Accordingly, the Complainant was of the view that the advertisement was misleading. Complainant, A. Dick, was also of the view that the advertisement was misleading. The Chairman directed the Complaints Board to consider the complaint with reference to Rules 2 and 11 of the Code of Ethics. The Complaints Board said the advertisement, which contained images such as “landmines” to signify danger, was hyperbolic in nature, and the aim had been to

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heighten awareness of the dangers of cornering too fast. In its view, the actions of the car did not have to be literal or factual for the message to be true. The Complaints Board noted the voice-over message in the advertisement said: “When you push your speed on corners, there is less room for error. There is more force taking you off the road and less keeping you on it. And there is no warning.” The final message said “Slow Down”. Rule 11 made provision for robust expression in advocacy advertisements, and the Complaints Board said this was particularly acceptable when the message was a socially responsible safety message such as in the advertisement before it. The Complaints Board agreed that the type of car used was not a significant factor in the context of the road safety message, and that there was no intention in the advertisement to suggest that the model shown was unsafe in any way. It noted the late model vehicle had been chosen to attract the relevant target audience for the safety message, being male drivers between 25 to 40 years of age, a group which had been known to habitually drive over the speed limit. Having made the above observations, the Complaints Board agreed unanimously that the socially responsible message in the advertisement overrode the technical issues raised about the performance of the car, particularly in the light of the hyperbolic context of the advertisement. As such it said the advertisement was not misleading and was not in breach of Rule 2 of the Code of Ethics, especially as it fell within the definition of an advocacy advertisement and was covered by the provisions in Rule 11. The Complaints Board ruled to not uphold the complaint. Decision: Complaint Not Upheld


				
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