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Advertising Standards Authority Goes !?!?!

Wed, 31 Oct 2001
In sheer frustration at a recent ASA ruling the MG Rover Group has issued the following statement:

The successful MG advertising campaign, promoted in newspapers, magazines and on poster sites throughout the UK since July, has been suspended following an ASA ruling. The distinctive 'Full Fat, High Caffeine and Maximum Strength' ads promote the new MG ZR, MG ZS and MG ZT, but a complaint from a single individual has been upheld.

The complainant felt that the abstract background, bold headline and 'Life's too short not to' strap line conveyed 'a car travelling fast, objected that they placed an undue emphasis on speed and encouraged irresponsible driving'.

John Sanders, Group Marketing Director, MG Rover, said: We are very disappointed with this conclusion. The ads have been very popular since July, resulting in tremendous interest in the exciting and dynamic new MGs, but the reaction of an individual has changed all that.

We make no apology for the fact that the new MG range is faithful to the MG tradition of producing genuine sports cars. Communicating the performance characteristics inherent within any MG means an inevitable dynamic association, with the excitement that comes from driving these cars.

The MG brand is dynamic, exciting and for individuals who like to 'live life to the full'. The advertising campaign does not talk about speed; it is designed to appeal to people who like the freedom to make their own choices and not be dictated to by the current obsession with denying oneself the pleasures of life.

Much of the ruling concerns the blurred background and spinning wheels, a technique used widely by all manufacturers to illustrate motion. The imagery of the car was intentionally pin-sharp and placed on a none-real-life background, to reduce the importance on speed.

It is unfortunate that one single individual has taken offence to our approach, particularly as it seems that the general public's response to our MG launch has been overwhelmingly positive. Interest in the cars has been unprecedented, with thousands of orders being taken.

MG Rover will be discussing the matter with the ASA to try and understand better the basis of their judgement. It has never been our intention to encourage the use of speed in inappropriate circumstances or conditions, and this is reflected in the fact that only one complaint has been received.


The ASA ruling applies to the poster and magazine campaign, not the TV commercial.

During the media launch of the new MG range, we deliberately provided off-public road facilities for journalists to test these cars and going forward, we will be offering similar opportunities to customers.

Note from Honest John: If you are not happy about this ASA ruling, please go to www.asa.org.uk, find the complaints form and fill it in with your complaint.

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