Car child-safety conference hits a bump
Sydney Morning Herald SunWednesday July 31 2002
|By Joshua Dowling, Motoring Editor
A Holden conference about child safety hit a bumpy patch yesterday when a guest speaker criticised the host over an "appalling" advertisement.
Dr Fred Leditschke, national president of Kidsafe Australia, was invited to endorse Holden's research into child restraints.
He praised the company but, after his speech, criticised Holden for the commercial, which depicts a father racing his Commodore around toys in a driveway.
"It's absolutely appalling," said the pediatric surgeon, who has spent 35 years specialising in the prevention of child trauma.
"Driveway deaths are the second biggest killers of children aged one to five, and here we have Holden racing a car around a child's toys. I'm disappointed that they are prepared to promote a vehicle in an ad without concern for what other messages they are sending."
Holden says it withdrew the TV and print ads two weeks ago, but not because of adverse public reaction.
"Ads have a certain life, and that one's run its race," said the marketing director of Holden, John Elsworth.
He said Holden received negative feedback on most ads, "but we also get a lot of positive feedback".
"There are always minority groups who take exception to ads. The advertising we're creating is just theatre. We are not encouraging people to replicate what's going on in the ad, and to make that assumption is drawing a very long bow."
The ad was filmed in a Sydney driveway a year ago. Holden's lawyers requested several changes, such as having the child in the ad safely behind a loungeroom window and making sure no toys were knocked over.
The Advertising Standards Board received complaints but no action was taken.
The car industry has been asked to review its self-imposed advertising standards proposal before it meets Federal Government officials later this year.