Car in lake ad banned by ad watchdog

An ad featuring two women who drive their car into a lake because they’re distracted has been banned by the Advertising Standards Board.

The ad features the women ignoring their GPS while they chat, stopping to talk to a jogger and then driving into the dam.

The ad promotes free breakdown recovery for people who use Ultratune.

A complaint to the ASB stated:

“Our family lost 5 members in a accident which they drowned. They were driving a silver ford falcon. As you can understand this is upsetting to us and other people as well who have suffered this kind of tragedy.”

The ASB ruled:

“The Board noted the complainant’s concern that the advertisement portrays an example of poor driving behavior and makes light of a serious matter.

“The Board noted that the intention of the advertisement is to set a scene that is realistic and familiar to drivers across Australia. The Board considered however that the behaviour of the girls trivializes the fact that they are not paying attention to the road and one of the girls is heard to say “not again!” This adds strength to the argument that the girls have possibly been involved in a similar incident and have not learnt or changed their behavior as a consequence of their actions.

“The Board considered that there is a very serious and genuine community concern regarding road safety and issues surrounding negligent driving and that the behavior of the woman driving was contrary to community standards on safe driving.”


  1. Daniel Jacob
    27 Jun 12
    12:14 pm

  2. Once again, people take things literally.

    The Idea is Simple: If you get into trouble, Ultra Tune is there to help you.

    Sure the execution is a bit eccentric, and the use of girls being distracted by a ‘cute’ guy can be seen as sexist even, it is just an example of a situation…

    If we continue to dissect every single detail, and base all forms of advertising based on our personal experiences (-ve or +ve), we’ll always restrict ourselves.

    The term “not again” need not necessarily be related to the exact situation. It is subjective. One could take it as “not again”, as in we’re in trouble (different situation), or “not again”, letting another cute guy get the better of ‘us’.

    Help the industry. Allow creatives freedom that emphasizes the intended message.

    After all, if it’s an advertisement it’s a form of ‘play’, just like movies…


    Daniel-Jacob Santhou

  3. Dawn
    27 Jun 12
    12:33 pm

  4. Are we seriously living in a world where every ad created has to take into consideration every single individual’s personal experiences in life? Whilst I am in no way making light of the complainants experience, I do find it distressing that it is this what prompted the ad to be reviewed, rather than its questionable sexist undertones. Even with that in mind, I would say the ad does not breach any standards.

    People in this country are wowsers.

  5. Mike
    27 Jun 12
    12:33 pm

  6. Oh dear God…..well done Nanny State!
    Let’s ban everything because one person complains, then we’ll have to ban everything. So someone lost relatives in a car crash – sorry to hear that, but tough. That doesn’t give them the right to determine television content for Australia on the basis of their own emotional state.
    I’m sure someone lost a relative to a chicken burger too, or a peanut product – do we ban ads for those too?
    Does “the Board” ban anything that it deems as not good behaviour?
    And by whose standards?
    Who authorised them to have such power? We, the people, did not.

    So this bunch of unelected simpletons known as the ASB have appointed themselves as the arbiters of comedy, the arbiters of safety, the arbiters of taste – in effect, the censors over of Australian television culture.
    For Christ’s sake, it’s time we let the market decide, and stopped permitting authorities to behave like it’s East Germany in the 1970’s.

    If the ad offends everyone, then Ultratune will change their tune. It doesn’t
    You can lay bets that the key complainants were set up by competitors to censor what is a good, entertaining and effective bit of TV advertising.

  7. Derek Zilich
    27 Jun 12
    12:43 pm

  8. Banned why?

    talk about a Nanny state.

    I think the Advertising Standards Board are getting a bit too precious.

  9. mnbvcxz
    27 Jun 12
    1:09 pm

  10. If they’ve banned that due to the above complaints why have they not pulled Greys Anatomy off air??

  11. Beery
    27 Jun 12
    1:28 pm

  12. Nanny state, wowsers, all true althoguh I am sympathetic to the family who’s family members drowned in a silver falcon. However, Blind Freddy could see the potential to have it pulled coming (but good to see both agency and client accept the risk, if indeed they recognised it). Frankly, I am surprised it lasted as long as it did. The fact is, they could have done it differently and better. Now they have to.

  13. Daniel Oyston
    27 Jun 12
    1:30 pm

  14. “The Board considered that there is a very serious and genuine community concern regarding road safety and issues surrounding negligent driving” – ummmm of course there is, and this is the type of driving that people should be aware they commit! pffft

  15. Red Bean
    27 Jun 12
    1:31 pm

  16. Mike, really , how about a sense of perspective on your Outrage? As regular readers would know the ASB gets plenty of complaints (of varying degrees of lunacy) and generally rules on them with a level head.

    I personally think this ad is borderline at best. If the point is, as the earlier commenter said, ‘If you get into trouble, Ultra Tune is there to help you’, surely there’s a better way to illustrate that than implying that dumb girls don’t really need to worry about watching the road even though they’ve had previous accidents. If not actively encouraging unsafe driving, it’s certainly dismissing it as unimportant.

    Lastly, how about presenting an argument rather than a catchphrase? Anyone shouting ‘nanny state’ automatically loses any debate in my book and quite aside from that should get back in their time capsule and return to 1996 along with Political Correctness Gone Mad.

  17. Confused
    27 Jun 12
    1:33 pm

  18. It makes light of the situation.. so, if both girls went through the window decapitated they might allow it.

  19. Daniel Jacob
    27 Jun 12
    2:40 pm

  20. I do have to agree with Red Bean.

    By stating the obvious, we too get involved in the situation of name-calling or degrading others comments or opinions.

    Unfortunately, the ASB was set up for a reason. I’ve read through their guidelines to justify their actions. We live in a people-centric world made up of ‘consumers’.

    I think the context of Advertising needs to be clear. There are no bad Ads. Only bad people :)


    Daniel-Jacob Santhou

  21. jezzaj
    28 Jun 12
    1:20 pm

  22. They should have banned it – Because it’s a terrible ad.

  23. Richard Moss
    29 Jun 12
    9:06 am

  24. This is an age old problem for watch dogs. Supposed to allow pink blobs, but exclude green ones, the watch dog will naturally allow pink blobs with some green and even green blobs, if they show a lot of pink.

    The problem occurs after years of allowing such blobs, without ever seeing a blob with too much green or a not enough pink. The watch dog begins to feel more like a door attendant than a watch dog, boredom sets in, and worse than this, a feeling of impotence.

    Pretty soon, the watchdog begins to look for too much green by disallowing anything it may consider pinkish green or greenish pink . In what seems like no time at all, the watchdog bans an inoffensive blob for its lack of pink.

  25. Rushdie
    29 Jun 12
    10:31 am

  26. The agency who this ad would have known being banned was on the cards. Dangerous driving is never allowed in Australian advertising. They’ve wasted their client’s money. They must be punished.

  27. Peter Rush
    29 Jun 12
    10:35 am

  28. Could Richard Moss please include a link to an illustration of his pinkish-greenish theory — i”m fuckin confused!

  29. Richard Moss
    29 Jun 12
    10:43 pm

  30. @Peter Rush.

    You should never fuck confused, it leads to PE and Impotency.

  31. AdGrunt
    30 Jun 12
    11:23 am

  32. If one has to get crap ads removed from TV by claiming that 5 relatives drowned in a silver Ford Falcon, then so be it.

    I doubt the claim of the complainant, as much as I smell the oily rag of PR “controversy” for an otherwise forgettable campaign.