Aviva ad banned for encouraging ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ driving

12.00 | 20 September 2017 | | 6 comments

An advertising campaign which set out to share the message that no-one should have to pay for other people’s bad driving, has itself been pulled for encouraging ‘dangerous and irresponsible driving’.

The Aviva advert, launched in January, features ex-F1 driver David Coulthard disguised as a rogue taxi driver, who bewilders his unwitting passengers with an array of appalling driving behaviour, including distracted driving.

The passengers are shocked as the driver demands payment for the hair-raising ride, before revealing his real identity.

When launching the campaign, Peter Markey, Aviva’s brand and marketing communications director, said: “Sadly there are still too many incidents which happen because people get into bad habits or they get distracted while driving, so we want to send out this message loud and clear – that everyone can play their part in making our roads safer, by just taking that extra care.”

However, after receiving 58 complaints from members of the public, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled the advert ‘must not appear again in its current form’. The ASA also told Aviva that its advertising ‘must not encourage dangerous and irresponsible driving’.

In its ruling, the ASA said: “The manner in which the car was driven was extremely reckless and given it was performed in a regular vehicle and on public roads whilst showing other vehicles to be in motion, were scenes that could potentially be emulated by viewers, putting themselves and others at a significant risk of danger by driving hazardously and in an irresponsible manner.

“Because of that, we considered that the ad had featured reckless driving behaviour on public roads and therefore concluded that the ad encouraged dangerous and irresponsible driving.”

Defending the advert, Aviva said it believed that the over the top, stylised driving and prominent warnings, all ‘contributed to the narrative that the driving behaviour depicted in the ads was being discouraged and condemned’.

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04 January 2017

Category: General news, Driver distraction.


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    This advert took so long to ban that the ban is utterly meaningless. Several million people saw it and it had run its course by the time the ban came in to place. The net result is Aviva have not suffered in the slightest for their error of judgement.

    Richard, UK
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    I pointed this out when the advert went live! Glad they have seen sense – ridiculous portrayal of stupid driving – assumption that you can get a taxi and they drive like a racing driver or just drive like that normally – I speak to young people regularly on road safety who thought this was “cool” and wanted to do the “tricks” e.g. doughnuts, hand brake turns car leaps etc. — Stupid at best ……Dangerous in its message.

    Alan Faulds Stenhousemuir
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    Perhqaps there should have been some information that this was done by stunt professionals on a private or closed off road road and that in no way should it be copied. Would that have satisfied the A.S.A.

    m.worthington Manchester
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    What I think we all need to learn from this is that “good ideas”, developed with good intentions, don’t necessarily end up as “good” interventions.

    Was this advert tested with the target audience? Were these potential unintended consequences highlighted during development and monitored in the testing?

    Many times I have heard people say “well if it saves one life then it is worth it” but we also need to ask: “could this do more harm than doing nothing?”

    Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire
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    I know that this is an advert and comes under greater scrutiny and legislation than normal programmes. Should we then ban Youtube videos that show crashes and other instances of dangerous driving. I certainly believe that some so called training videos for motorcyclists should be removed and have said so but all that happens is that comments are disallowed and the video continues. To be seen by all who would wish to improve their safe riding ability but are shown both dangerous practises and given poor and dangerous advice.

    Many videos come from America where a lot of training is done on the track where the practises, procedures and mind set are totally different to those that we would adopt on our roads and yet riders believe them and follow those practises believing them to be safe ones.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    If nothing else, the ad did remind us that when using private hire cars, we consent to being driven by a stranger who, unknown to us, may be an atrocious driver – and yet as polite passengers, we tend not to say anything and just pray that we survive the journey. My ruse is to pretend I get car sick above a certain speed which certainly focuses their minds!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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