New Decisions: Car Safety, Alcohol Advertising and More

The following decisions have been published

Alcohol advertiser takes action to comply with Code

The Corona Facebook page featured its “Where You’d Rather Be” campaign and contained links including a Corona Sunsets promotion video for a free live show featuring the Soaked Oats band. The Facebook page also had a link to the trailer for a movie called Hidden Mountain which contains snowboarding footage.

The Complainant was concerned by four aspects of the advertising. First, underage people were able to access alcohol advertising on the Advertisers Facebook, YouTube and website pages, which should have been restricted to 18+ consumers. Second, the Complainant challenged the sponsorship advertising of the Soaked Oats band which they considered breached the Guidelines by showing product and consumption. Third, the Complainant questioned whether a promotional trailer for the Hidden Mountain movie featured on the Advertiser’s Facebook page showed reckless snowboarding footage. Finally, the Complainant said members of the Soaked Oats Band were under the age of 25, also breaching the Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol Code.

The Advertiser acknowledged there had been an error in ensuring that age verification was applied correctly and confirmed this had been rectified on their Facebook page as well as all points of entry to its website. The Advertiser said care had been taken to separate consumption of alcohol from sporting activities or as a more attractive lifestyle and the Soaked Oats partnership was not a sponsorship advertisement. In response to the complaint regarding the Soaked Oats band members being under 25 years of age in breach the Code, the Advertiser had removed the advertising of the band from the Facebook page.

The Complaints Board accepted that once the Advertiser was made aware of the lack of age verification control they had acted to apply the available age verification controls. It agreed this part of the complaint was settled. The Complaints Board ruled the Soaked Oats advertisement was not a sponsorship advertisement due to the inclusion of alcohol products and consumption, so the advertisement automatically became alcohol advertising. The Complaints Board agreed the Soaked Oats advertising did not encourage excessive drinking or have strong or evident appeal to minors. However, the Board said there was a breach of the Code by using visually prominent under 25 year olds in an advertisement depicting alcohol. The Advertiser had already removed this advertisement, so the Complaints Board agreed this part of the complaint was settled. The Complaints Board ruled the link between the sporting activity and alcohol in the Hidden Mountain post was not sufficient to meet the threshold for dangerous behaviour. This part of the complaint was Not Upheld.

Accordingly, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Settled in Part / Not Upheld in Part.

Electric Vehicle Adheres To Safety Guidelines

The television advertisement for Mercury Energy featured a 1957 Ford Fairlane that had been converted to an electric vehicle called Evie. The advertisement followed two older men escaping a retirement village for a night driving round town in Evie. A man in a car waiting at the traffic lights asked the men driving Evie “What’s under the hood bro?” to which the driver of Evie replies “you wouldn’t believe me.” As the light turns green, Evie is seen heavily accelerating straight ahead while the other car is left waiting at the lights. The advertisement concluded with the tag line “Mercury. Energy made wonderful.”

The Complainant was concerned the advertisement showed the vehicle “breaking traction with excessive acceleration” where the car is seen “drag racing at the lights”. The Complainant said the advertisement also showed passengers riding in the car in dangerous positions without wearing seatbelts and glamourised a car street racing.

The Advertiser said there was no depiction of street racing and the car never exceeded 50 km/h in the advertisement. Evie is certified safe by NZTA, all passengers were wearing seatbelts and Evie is stationary when passengers enter and exit. The Advertiser said the advertisement does not contain any visual presentation of situations which encourage a disregard for safety.

The Complaints Board agreed the advertisement did not depict street racing or show the car obviously speeding at any time. While it noted the tyre noise as part of the acceleration at the lights, when considered against the hyperbolic nature the advertisement as a whole, it was unlikely to encourage a disregard for safety. The Complaints Board acknowledged it was difficult for the viewer to see the rear lap belts being worn in the advertisement but said that, in itself, did not mean the advertisement encouraged a disregard for safety. A minority disagreed and said the noise of the tyres exacerbated the impression of excessive acceleration and speed and the scene was likely to encourage a disregard for safety. However, in accordance with the majority view, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Not Upheld.