UK: MG Rover falls foul of advertising watchdog
An adverse ruling by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority has forced MG Rover to 'suspend' a newspaper, magazine and poster campaign, but not TV slots, for its new models.
The 'Full Fat, High Caffeine and Maximum Strength' ads have been promoting the new ZR, ZS and ZT since their launch in July but an individual complaint was upheld by the ASA.
The complainant said that the abstract background, bold headline and "Life's too short not to…" slogan conveyed a car travelling fast. He objected that they placed an undue emphasis on speed and encouraged irresponsible driving.
"We are very disappointed with this conclusion," said MG Rover Group Marketing Director John Sanders. "The ads have been very popular… but the reaction of an individual has changed all that.
"We make no apology... 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.
MG Rover says the image of the car was intentionally pin-sharp and placed on a none-too-real background to reduce the emphasis 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," the company said in a statement. "Interest in the cars has been unprecedented, with thousands of orders being taken."
MG Rover is talking to 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 statement added.