A controversial ad for Ultratune showing two women dressed in short skirts and revealing tops almost getting hit by a train on a level crossing has been banned for vilifying women.
However, the car repair chain says it intends to seek an “independent review” of the decision to ban the ad from the internet and TV by the Ad Standards Board.
The ad shows two women dressed in short skirts and high heels listening to music in a convertible, before driving on to train tracks and getting stuck on the level crossing. The final shot shows the pair walking away as the train hits the car and there is an explosion.
One complaint against the ad described it as “disrespectful and degrading to women” adding “it portrays two women as sex objects”. “This may seem trivial to you as you have allowed similar ad’s [sic] in the past,” the complainant added.
A second complaint about the TV version of the ad claims it shows women being depicted in a “bimbo” manner. “This advertisement is telling people that women are stupid and would sit in a broken down car on the train tracks and get hit instead of getting out of the car,” the complaint added.
Some complainants were offended as they had loved ones involved in a railway-related accident and that it appears to them that the women are attempting suicide.
In response to the complaints, Ultratune explained the strategy behind the ads is to encourage people to have their vehicles serviced to avoid “unexpected situations”, adding it was “designed in an exaggerated, action movie style and is not intended to be a fully realistic portrayal of real events”.
Defending the attire of the women Ultratune said it had been shot at night when “it is common for women to be in such attire”.
“The final scene was designed to emphasise the female empowerment with them confidently walking away from the vehicle without harm,” Ultratune added.
In its determination the Board agreed the women’s dress “is not inappropriate for two women going out” and that the ad was focused on their situation, not their attire or bodies.
However, in the report the board says: “The Board considered that the women are depicted as unintelligent in the way in which they sit passively, with blank faces, in the car on the train tracks and also in the way they appear to not notice the oncoming train.
“This behaviour, in the Board’s view, makes the women appear unintelligent and presents them in a stereotypical helpless female situation. In the Board’s view, the depiction of the women’s reaction to their situation is a negative depiction of women and does amount to vilification of women.”
In a note, Ultratune’s lawyers said the company would take down the ads, but noted “it intends to seek an independent review of the Board’s decision, once finalised”.
While the advertiser has pulled the ad from its own YouTube channel, the chain’s owner Sean Buckley is still showing it on his personal channel.