Kia ad pulled by Ad Standards for dangerous J-turn

An ad for Kia’s SUV range has been pulled by the Ad Standards community panel for depicting three vehicles simultaneously making a ‘J-turn’, or 180 degree spin from a reversing position.

The ad, which was frequently shown during the Australian Open broadcast on Nine to launch the auto brand’s new logo, also attracted complaints for showing the Sorento, Seltos and Carnival vehicles driving at excessive speed and in the middle of the road. Complainants were concerned the ad would influence “young offenders and other mindless people” to recreate the behaviour in their own vehicles on the road.

To defend the J-turn, Kia highlighted clause three of the FCAI Motor Vehicle Advertising Code, which stipulates that advertisers may make use of scenes of simulated motor sport or vehicle testing provided the scenes are easily identifiable as part of an organised activity and follow safety requirements.

Kia asserted that the J-turn was choreographed by a qualified stunt co-ordinator who communicated with the professional stunt drivers of each vehicle through headsets. The attire of the drivers was also noted to reinforce the message that they were professionals.

The scene also included the disclaimer: “Filmed under controlled conditions on a closed location. Vehicles driven by professional stunt drivers. Do not attempt this stunt in your own Kia vehicle.” The ad was shot on a closed airstrip.

The FCAI code dictates that car advertising must abide by Australian road rules. The community panel found that two provisions of the road rules were in question, the first noting that a driver must not reverse the vehicle further than is reasonable in the circumstances, and the second being a driver must not drive a vehicle unless they have proper control.

The panel employed a guidance note regarding the use of disclaimers in making its decision. The note states:

“In particular, it is noted that use of disclaimers indicating that a particular scene or advertisement was produced under controlled conditions; using expert drivers; that viewers should not attempt to emulate the driving depicted; or expressed in other similar terms, should be avoided. Such disclaimers cannot in any way be used to justify the inclusion of material which otherwise does not comply with the provisions of the FCAI Code.”

Despite the use of the professional stunt drivers, the panel decided that the J-turn would breach Commonwealth, state or territory law were it to occur on a road, and therefore upheld the complaint.

Complaints surrounding the speed of the cars were successfully defended by Kia. The brand argued that a shot in the ad showed the speedometer of one of the vehicle showed it was travelling at 50km/h. The panel noted that while the vehicles appeared to be travelling very quickly and the sound of the engines were clear, they did not appear to be travelling at an excessive speed. The complaints were dismissed.

Kia responded by pulling the ad from the air, and working to modify it to remove the J-turn.

The ad was created by Innocean.


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