Pedestrian Council of
Safety – Amenity – Access – Health
WEDNESDAY 1 DECEMBER 2004
“Manufacturing Safety – Marketing Death and Injury”
The PCA has scored yet another ‘scalp’ in having the Mercedes-Benz “Monk-Insect” TV advertisement withdrawn.
The Chairman of the PCA, Mr
“Mercedes Benz manufactures safety … yet recklessly markets death and injury.
“So if this advertisement is so clearly and unambiguously in breach of the Code, how did it ever get to air in the first place? Easy! The system has been created by the advertisers for the advertisers. It has been deliberately fashioned to allow advertisers a laissez-faire period to advertise whatever they want and a Board which only meets monthly to review complaints. It’s an utter rort. This ad has been running for over 8 weeks. And it was apparently made overseas. Compared with an Australian produced TV commercial, these ads are as cheap as chips. So if the ads are withdrawn, there’s little if any cost.
“Most TV motor-vehicle advertising campaigns are only designed to last about a month or two. Many of these ads, featuring every illegal and dangerous driving behaviour known to man, are run hundreds and hundreds of times across the nation. By the time the ASB determines they breach the Code and must be withdrawn, the damage is done … without apology, without penalty. And frequently, the advertisers then simply modify the same ads, removing the offending scenes, knowing full-well that the previous speeding and dangerous driving scenes are subliminally embedded in the minds of the viewing public.
“Government agencies throughout
Mr Scruby said: “If the industry wants to remain independent and have the right to “self-regulate” its own Code, mechanisms ensuring these ads are never screened will ensure that advertising agencies don’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making them. Additionally, a truly independent Chairman (such as a retired judge) must have the discretionary power to remove these advertisements immediately, upon receipt of complaints which clearly demonstrate such advertisements breach the Code.
“In the words of Professor (Dr) Danny Cass, head of the Trauma Unit at the Westmead Children’s Hospital, who stated on national television recently, in relation to certain car makers and their ads (quote): ‘in my opinion, they’ve got blood on their hands.’
“We will be writing to Mercedes-Benz Head Office in
“We will also be writing to the Australian Government urgently requesting a system which ensures these ads never go to air in the first place and significant penalties for those advertisers who are found to breach the Code. We also call on all advertising agencies and motor-vehicle manufactures to demonstrate a collective corporate responsibility where they promote safety, not speed and dangerous driving. Shame on you Mercedes-Benz!” Mr Scruby said.
(A copy of the ASB determination is attached).
Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of
ADVERTISING STANDARDS BOARD (logo)
The material reviewed by the Board features the Dalai Lama look-alike (the “Monk”) asking a businessman whether the Monk can drive the businessman’s Mercedes Benz. The Monk proceeds to drive the businessman’s car behind a motorcycle and the businessman drives behind the Monk in the Monk’s Mercedes Benz. All three vehicles drive along a two way unmarked road. The Monk makes several sudden vehicle movements and the passengers in his car and the driver and passengers in the car behind him cannot understand why he is driving that way. When they all pull over, the Monk is asked by the businessman why he was driving that way and the Monk points to the businessman’s car which has insects caught in the Mercedes badge. The Monk’s car does not have any insects caught in its badge. The tagline is “Be at one with the road.”
Comments which the complainant/s made included the following:
“The advertisement breaches the Code in the following ways by depicting these driving behaviours which are offences in all Australian states and territories:
1 Sudden turns
3 Overtaking suddenly and in an aggressive, jerking manner, without using an indicator
“The key focus of the advertisement is a vehicle travelling with sudden, extreme and unnecessary changes in direction.”
“The advertisement directly contradicts RTA road safety campaigns, which highlight the need to be prepared for the unexpected and to drive responsibly, especially on country roads.”
“Safer driving, such as driving responsibly and not avoiding insects, would be a more appropriate course of action than swerving erratically across both sides of the road, which in reality could be into the line of oncoming traffic and or result in loss of control of the vehicle.”
THE ADVERTISER’S RESPONSE
Comments which the advertiser made in response to the complaint/s included the following:
“There is no:
· aggressive driving;
· driving in a “jerking manner”;
· driving that requires the use of an indicator; nor
depicted in the advertisement.”
“The driving depicted in the advertisement is not unsafe, reckless or menacing.”
“Furthermore, the vehicles are not travelling at an excessive speed nor are involved in any sudden, extreme or unnecessary changes in direction. The direction and speed of all vehicles in the advertisement is constant.”
“All speeds travelled by vehicles in the advertisement during production did not exceed 60km/h. This is clearly within the speed limits applicable to open-road driving in any relevant jurisdiction in