Volvo cuts scene of driver falling asleep at the wheel after Ad Standards ruling

Volvo has been forced to modify one of its ads to remove scenes of a mother starting to fall asleep at the wheel of her vehicle and a scene depicting a baby being left unsupervised on a changing table.

Complaints lodged to Ad Standards were purely concerned with the scene of the clearly fatigued woman losing focus while driving her car which veered into the oncoming lane until the lane keeping aid feature came into effect. While deliberating over the complaints the community panel also took note of the scene in which the parents turned their backs to a baby on a changing table which was determined to be a risk for injury for infants as per the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia’s advice.

Complainants wrote that depicting a woman falling asleep at the wheel sent a dangerous message about driving while fatigued that a technical feature of a car is a sufficient substitute for an alert driver.

Volvo responded to the complaint by pointing out that ‘there are no laws regulating driver fatigue’ and that the brand is committed to ‘developing technologies to combat these issues as well as contributing to discussions about encouraging better driver behaviour’ as part of its safety vision that ‘no one should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo car’.

Volvo wrote that the advertisement was produced in Sweden by Forsman & Bodenfors and was filmed under controlled conditions, with permissions for filming provided by the Swedish Traffic Authorities.

It also argued that the disclaimer “Lane Keeping Aid is driver assist technology and not a substitute for the driver’s control over the vehicle. The driver remains responsible for the vehicle” that appeared on-screen for 17 seconds was sufficient to ensure that viewers were aware of the function of the technology.

The panel considered the complaints under Clause 2D of the FCAI Voluntary Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising regarding the depiction of drivers that appear fatigued, intoxicated or under the influence.

The panel contrasted previous rulings that dismissed complaints against community awareness commercials regarding driving while fatigued, noting this case was a commercial to promote a feature of a vehicle with a sales intention. Whilst reasonable for an advertisement to display the functions of a safety feature it determined there were ways it could have been promoted without depicting a fatigued person behind the wheel.

As a result the complaints were upheld, and in turn Volvo has removed the ad from air with modified versions without the two scenes taking its place for the course of the campaign.


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