If the old adage of "there's no such thing as bad publicity" is true, then BMW's recently banned radio advertisement in the UK is far exceeding all expectations. From our vantage point this isn't even bad publicity (for BMW anyway) as the radio spot seemed completely harmless. Still, it was enough to garner a single complaint and that pushed the UK's governing body on advertisements into action.
So, what exactly is this horrific, irresponsible advert that BMW tried to force upon innocent listeners? Sadly, we can't find a copy of the actual radio ad, but a report from UK's Express offers a transcription that allegedly goes something like this:
"We could use big words like striking, muscular, or captivating to tell you what it looks like. Or we could use an alluring combination of colourful words to describe exactly what it feels like. But all you really want to hear is this."
At that point, the sound of a revving engine fills the airwaves, and that's where the offense was taken by at least one listener. According to the report, a single complaint was made to the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) claiming the radio spot was irresponsible, and the group actually backed that complaint. We don't know if there were additional complaints, but according to Express, the ASA deemed that yes, an engine that revs in a non-visual radio advertisement without any context is against the rules. Seriously?
Gallery: 2022 BMW 2 Series Debut
BMW tried to defend its ad by saying the sound was recorded while the car was static, and the sound clip was reportedly only about a second long. Still, ASA rules for automotive advertisements apparently forbid any reference to performance, handling, or actions that might otherwise depict a car as exciting. We wonder if anyone at the ASA has ever been to a repair shop where mechanics are revving engines while troubleshooting problems? That's possibly the least exciting thing in all of automotive existence.
Considering this was an ad for BMW's M division – which exists for the sole purpose of creating exciting cars – we can't imagine how one might even try to advertise in such a tied-down environment. But the ASA's highly dubious decision to act on the alleged complaint of a single individual has now catapulted this simple UK radio ad to worldwide exposure. As such, we suspect any initial hard feelings at BMW about the decision are now replaced with smiles all around. Thank you, ASA.