Nissan’s fake race to hospital ad gets banned a second time

pulsar ad hospitalNissan has been forced to pull an ad for its Pulsar for a second time after changes it made following a first set of complaints were insufficient.

It is one of the few occasions in this history of the Ad Standards Board that the same ad has effectively been banned twice.

The commercial features a young couple racing through the streets against the clock to a hospital. The woman appears to be pregnant, before revealing she is wearing a fake bump and they are testing themselves to see how fast they can get there.

A first version of the ad was banned by the ASB back in June after complaints that it showed dangerous driving including the female passenger urging the male driver to go faster.

Nissan then put out a re-edited version without the woman urging her boyfriend on, and with lower volume engine noise. It also reduced the squeal of brakes when the car arrived.

(Ad courtesy of Ebiquity)

However the new version – which aired on TV and was online – drew renewed complaints – including the car racing up close behind another car and the driver referring to his “personal best”. One complainant said that it celebrated hooning.

Complaints to the ASB included:

“The whole basis of the ad is showing the car hurtling along city roads at great speed with seemingly little regard for its surroundings. The premise is that this erractic or desperate style of driving is to get the pregnant woman, who is in labor, to hospital. The twist is that she is not pregnant – it is a time trial “game” – so the speed is just hooning and demonstrating how fast the car can go. I am appalled that this ad promotes this type of terrible, irresponsible driving as ok. It is clearly not ok – it is dangerous and in surely in breach of Nissan’s responsibility to use responsible driving to advertise their cars.”

Nissan responded to the complaint that it showed the car getting too close to another by saying: “The vehicle is only shown for a very short of time driving behind a Mercedes model vehicle. At the low speed at which the Pulsar is shown driving behind this vehicle, the distance between the Pulsar and the Mercedes is more than adequate to be considered a ‘safe distance’.”

It added: “Nissan submits that the man’s comment in the TVC regarding “personal best” (and having arrived more quickly at the hospital than on previous occasions) is not ‘competitive driving’.

However, the ASB ruled that the ad was still in breach of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Advertising voluntary code.

It ruled: “The Board considered that despite the amendments made by the advertiser there is still an audio indicator of speed, and this accompanied by the visual footage of the car being driven down narrow streets is still suggestive of a vehicle driving in a manner which is not appropriate for the urban environment depicted and is unsafe.

“The Board noted that in the modified version of the advertisement the overall theme of the advertisement retains the concept of racing against the clock and considered that consistent with its original determination the suggestion of a driver trying to beat his own time is a depiction which is not appropriate for a vehicle being driven on public roads and is unsafe.

“Whilst it is morally questionable as to whether using a fake pregnancy in order to drive to the hospital and park in a premium spot outside it is acceptable, the advertisement does not depict any material which would be contrary to community standards on health and safety.”

Despite the finding, Nissan has decided to stick with the ad, switching to a third version. It still shows the race to the hospital, but the “beep” of the stop watch”and the man saying “Personal best” have now been removed.

The ad was made by Whybin\TBWA\Melbourne.

Meanwhile, the new version of the ad – which Nissan put online a fortnight ago – has already drawn complaints. One poster on Nissan’s YouTube channel states: “You fucking idiots, this ad came up when I wasn’t looking and everyone in my room thought I was watching a porno because of that noisy bitch at the start of the video.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.