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‘Women can jump up and down all they want’ says Ultra Tune boss as brand launches new ads

Ultra Tune, the car-servicing company which frequently finds itself the subject of complaints to the ASB, is courting controversy again, releasing another two ad spots featuring the rubber-clad “Ultra Tune girls” along with a cameo from actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Ultra Tune Van Damme

The ads – the latest in Ultra Tune’s “Unexpected situation” campaign –  launched online over the weekend and begin airing on TV from today.

The first ad, featuring Van Damme, sees the UltraTune girls in “Unexpected situation #4” – a flat tyre on a dark and seemingly dangerous street.

The girls are approached by a group of young males, one holding a baseball bat, who leer and ask “Car troubles?” The group are then drenched in light as Van Damme steps out of his ‘JCVD’ number-plated car.

“Big trouble guys,” he says, before the gang all whip out their phones, chant “JCVD”, take selfies and play around with karate moves.

“I won’t always be there to save you,” says Van Damme before the Ultra Tune mechanic shows up.

The second spot – which may be the more likely of the two to draw complaints to the Ad Standards Board under its rules on sexualisation of women – shows the women driving along when their muffler catches on fire. The pair attempt to put out the fire before the car explodes into a fireball and they are drenched in oil and debris.

Despite ongoing controversy and complaints related to Ultra Tune campaigns, CEO Sean Buckley claimed the brand is not being deliberately inflammatory.

“We didn’t know they’d be controversial,” he told Mumbrella of the campaign. “I know you’re laughing, but we didn’t. We thought people would take them [the ads] in the light-hearted way in which they were intended.”

When asked by Mumbrella if the ads were intended to generate publicity through news around potential complaints, Buckley responded with: “Do you think I’m stupid?”

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Buckley: “Do you think I’m stupid?”

He added: “If they didn’t work, I’d have them off the air before you could sit down… I think I know what I’m doing. The ads work brilliantly.”

Despite a previous ad, which features the women stuck on train tracks, facing seemingly imminent death by oncoming train, being banned, Buckley said the muffler iteration of the campaign was different and there was no reason for it to be taken off air.

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“Do I expect it to get banned? No. I will take it all the way to the High Court if it does. I’ve spoken to my lawyers.

“Yes, it will attract complaints, but that’s not why I did it.”

He said complaints tend to only come from “social keyboard warriors” and middle-aged feminists “who are after equality” who missed the light-hearted intent of the ads.

“They didn’t ban it [the previous train ad] for anything except the girls looked dumb,” Buckley told Mumbrella. “If you read between the lines [of the ruling] women can’t look dumb. Men can look dumb in beer ads and hardware ads, but women can’t.”

 

“Women can jump up and down all they want but they’re not our target audience”, added Buckley.

He claimed that men make the automotive decisions and around 95% of the brand’s customers are male.

Despite the “do-gooders jumping up and down about the campaign”, Buckley said the brand had tested it with research and focus groups, and the ads resonated well with Ultra Tune’s target market.

He said men liked the campaign, but lied to their wives and girlfriends that they found it offensive.

“It’s a bit like Trump. Nobody thought he would win because people didn’t want to admit that they liked him and were going to vote for him.

“People like these ads”.

He said the brand had learnt its lesson from the previous banning, however, and the women are now more pro-active and self-assured in these new ads.

“The girls respond quickly to the flames. They get a bit wet, but that’s okay,” he said.

The aim, he said, was not to exploit women, but leverage off the success of a similar campaign from the US.

Buckley said the inspiration for the campaign, which he worked on with Frontier, was a series of ads from Suburban Auto Group in the US, featuring the “Trunk Monkey”.

The Trunk Monkey campaign features a chimpanzee which rides around in the boot of drivers’ cars and helps them out of all kinds of unfortunate situations – including bribing a police officer and beating a road-raging aggressor with a crowbar.

Buckley pointed out the “monkey” had nothing to do with the product being sold and it was instead “a bit of fun”.

Without replicating the ads, Ultra Tune wanted to tap into the sentiment behind it and create a campaign which was fun, light-hearted and silly.

“Don’t take life too seriously,” Buckley concluded. “We’re not trying to hurt anyone. Just trying to have some fun.”

Van Damme, who was “expensive but worth it”, according to Buckley, has previously featured in one of the most viewed commercials of all time, Volvo Trucks’ “Epic Split”.

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