The rules governing what car commercials can and cannot depict in the United Kingdom are ridiculously tight. An ad for the latest Audi R8 has fallen foul of those rules, and been banned as a result by the Advertising Standards Agency.
What was wrong with it? Well, according to the ASA, it connected speed with excitement. Which contravenes the British government’s message that speed of any sort is inherently dangerous. As far as the ASA is concerned, depicting speed as exciting is the same as depicting nuclear war as exciting; a self-evidently ridiculous notion that is irresponsible to air in public.
The commercial in question shows an eye that widens and contracts as the R8’s 5.2-liter, naturally-aspirated V10 engine wails up through the gears. The sound then fades, and the soft background music comes to the fore as the camera cuts to an external shot of an R8 driving slowly around a corner. The slogan “More focus. More drive” is shown, followed by “The all-new R8 V10 plus with carbon ceramic brakes.” You can watch the director’s cut above.
The ASA ruled that the ad breached the regulations on motoring-related ads for its irresponsible depiction of speed. It launched its investigation after receiving just a single complaint from a member of the public - all that’s needed for an investigation into a possible breach of any media-related regulations in the UK.
“We considered that viewers would interpret the changes in pupil size as an emotional response to the movement of the car, as represented by the sounds that were audible during the eye sequence,” the ASA said in its judgement.
Volkswagen Group disputed the judgement, saying the movement of the eye, created in CGI, demonstrated focus and concentration.