PCA Gets its First Motor-Vehicle Ad Withdrawn


Thursday 19 August 2004

After over 30 complaints to the Advertising Standards Board over the past few years, the PCA today claimed its first scalp in a committed campaign to rid our TV screens of outrageous and potentially lethal motor-vehicle advertising.


The Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby, said today:  “We put all motor-vehicle manufacturers and advertisers on notice that we will complain about any advertisement which breaches the Code.  And no longer will the ASB be able to use its non-existent “fantasy clause” to excuse any breach of a self-regulating code, which to date they have rarely, if ever, properly enforced.


“A copy of our complaint regarding the Mitsubishi Magna 4WD is attached.  It featured vehicles: 1 Speeding

2 Wheel-spinning and losing traction and four wheel drifts 3 Racing 4 Dangerous driving 5 Environmental damage; all of which are direct breaches of the code.


“In the past, most of our complaints about motor-vehicle ads which clearly breached the Code have received the following response: ‘the board considered that most people would view the advertisement as portraying fantasy and determined the advertisement did not contravene the FCAI code.  Yet nowhere in the FCAI code is the word ‘fantasy’ mentioned, let alone is it permitted as an excuse to portray practically every dangerous and illegal driving practice known to mankind.


“Government agencies throughout Australia spend millions of dollars on Road Safety TV advertising, in an attempt to reduce our horrific Road Toll – a Road Toll which, apart from the pain, grief and suffering, costs Australians $18 billion per annum.  Their commendable efforts are then nullified by the billions of dollars spent of TV advertisements depicting drivers breaking every rule in the book.


Mr Scruby added:  “But this self-enforcement system is still far from perfect.  Why was this ad (and all the others) ever allowed to be screened in the first place when it is so clearly in breach of the Code?  And why, when our complaint was received on 28 July 2004, has it taken three weeks to have it taken off air’ particularly when many advertising campaigns only run for several weeks?  And when will the ASB appoint a truly independent Chairman (eg a retired judge), not an employee of Colgate-Palmolive?


“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.  And a truly independent Chairman must have the discretionary power to remove these advertisements immediately, upon receipt of complaints such as ours, which demonstrate unambiguously and unequivocally, that the advertisement breaches the Code.


“In the lead-up to the Federal election, the PCA calls upon all parties and candidates to debate this important issue and ensure the abovementioned matters are corrected without delay.


“And we call upon all advertising agencies and motor-vehicle manufactures to start selling safety, not speed.” Mr Scruby said. 


Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555   (0418) 110-011

Email:  Internet:



-----Original Message-----

From: PCA []

Sent: Wednesday, 28 July 2004 1:45 PM

To: 'Robert Koltai'; 'Louise Webb'

Cc: ''

Subject: Formal Complaint Ford - Magna All-Wheel Drive

Sunday Show Ch 9 - 18 July: Motor-Vehicle Advertising and the ASB's "Fantasy Clause"


Wednesday 28 July 2004


Mr Robert Koltai


Advertising Standards Bureau



Dear Mr Koltai


Formal Complaint and Why Self-Regulation is an Utter Farce


This is a formal complaint about a Magna All-Wheel Drive advertisement which appeared on the Sunday Show Ch 9 - 18 July 2004


A copy of the ad is attached.


The ad features the following direct breaches of your code ( a copy of which appears below):


1 Speeding

2 Wheel-spinning and losing traction - four wheel drifts

3 Racing

4 Dangerous driving

5 Environmental damage


Like the scores of other complaints about motor-vehicle advertisements, all of which you have dismissed, which openly and flagrantly breach your own voluntary code, we expect that you will simply dismiss same by incorporating your non-existent "Fantasy Clause".


In spite of the advertisement being clearly in breach of your explicit code and in spite of the fact that nowhere in the code does it permit you to excuse breaches based on "fantasy", without pre-empting your decision, we expect to receive the following response:




We again remind you of Senator Ron Boswell's Media Release of 8 August 2002:


QUOTE: "The Code is a responsible approach to the voluntary regulation of advertising for motor vehicles. Effective implementation of the Code will demonstrate the commitment of motor vehicle manufacturers and the advertising industry to meeting their obligations to the community."


The new Code rules out car advertisements that display:


- unsafe driving (including reckless and menacing driving),

- speeds in excess of speed limits.

- driving practices which breach the law

- people clearly driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

- motorists driving while clearly fatigued

- motorcyclists or their passengers not wearing an approved safety helmet

- deliberate and significant environmental damage.


"In the past there has been very little guidance to advertisers about what needs to be observed in the development of advertisements for motor vehicles," Senator Boswell said. "I'm pleased that there are now specific guidelines for car advertising that should put an end to motor vehicle ads that glorify speed and other irresponsible behaviour."


The new Code applies to all new advertisements produced after 8 August 2002 and to all advertisements, regardless of when produced, after 1 December 2002. The Advertising Standards Board will administer the Code. (END OF QUOTE)


We could not find any references to your non-existent "fantasy clause", but as we have said before, most people don't believe in your "fantasy clause".


We look forward to your swift investigation of our complaint and your prompt reply.




Harold Scruby



Pedestrian Council of Australia Limited

"The Walking Class Heroes"


Telephone:    (02) 9968-4555

Facsimile:     (02) 9968-4566

Mobile:         (0418) 110-011


Email:  <> 

Internet: <>


PO Box 500




ABN 18 075 106 286







Development of the Code has been undertaken by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), representing manufacturers and importers of new vehicles marketed in Australia. The Code is intended as a means of advertising self-regulation in Australia and is to be applied to all forms of advertising for motor vehicles.


Vehicle occupant protection and road safety are primary concerns for the automotive industry in the design and operation of all motor vehicles supplied to the Australian market. FCAI endorses the National Road Safety Strategy and acknowledges the importance of increased road safety awareness in the Australian community and fully supports the efforts of all relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory authorities to secure this outcome.


The FCAI supports a responsible approach to advertising for motor vehicles. While acknowledging the legitimate use of motor sport, fantasy, humour and self-evident exaggeration in creative ways, the FCAI asks advertisers to be mindful of the importance of road safety and to ensure that advertising for motor vehicles does not contradict or undermine efforts to achieve improved road safety outcomes in Australia.




The Code will apply to all new advertisements for motor vehicles produced on or after 8 August 2002. Moreover, regardless of date of production, it is intended that all advertisements for motor vehicles published or broadcast in Australia on or after 1 December 2002 should comply with this Code.




Compliance with the Code should be administered by the Board of the Advertising Standards Bureau Limited (ASB) as part of its review of advertising complaints.


In administering the Code, the ASB is to give relevant advertisers the opportunity to present such evidence as they (i.e. the advertisers) deem appropriate in defence of any advertisement under review, prior to making any determination in relation to its consistency, or otherwise, with the requirements of the Code.




In developing the Code, FCAI has undertaken an extensive process of consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of the following:


(a) The Federal Government and its agencies (including the Australian Transport Safety Bureau);


(b) Relevant State and Territory Government authorities;


(c) The National Road Safety Strategy Panel (which comprises representatives of police services, road safety authorities, motoring organisations and industry groups);


(d) The Australian Association of National Advertisers; and


(e) The Advertising Standards Bureau Limited.









In this Code, the following definitions apply:


(a) Advertisement: means matter which is published or broadcast in all of Australia, or in a substantial section of Australia, for payment or other valuable consideration and which draws the attention of the public, or a segment of it, to a product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly that product, service, person, organisation or line of conduct.


(b) Motor vehicle: means passenger vehicle; motorcycle; light commercial vehicle and off-road vehicle.


(c) Road: means an area that is open to or used by the public and is developed for, or has as one of its main uses, the driving or riding of motor vehicles.


(d) Road-related area: means an area that divides a road; a footpath or nature strip adjacent to a road; an area that is not a road and is open to the public and designated for use by cyclists or animals; an area that is not a road and that is open to or used by the public for driving, riding or parking motor vehicles.




Advertisers should ensure that advertisements for motor vehicles do not portray any of the following:


(a) Obviously unsafe driving, including reckless and menacing driving to the extent that such practices would breach any Commonwealth law or the law of any State or Territory in the relevant jurisdiction in which the advertisement is published or broadcast dealing with road safety or traffic regulation, were they to occur on a road or road-related area.


[Example: Sudden, extreme and unnecessary changes in direction and speed of a motor vehicle; deliberately and unnecessarily setting motor vehicles on a collision course; or the apparent and deliberate loss of control of a moving motor vehicle.]


(b) People driving on a road or road-related area at speeds in excess of speed limits in the relevant jurisdiction in Australia in which the advertisement is published or broadcast.


(c) Driving practices which clearly take place on a road or road-related area and which breach any Commonwealth law or the law of any State or Territory in the relevant jurisdiction in which the advertisement is published or broadcast directly dealing with road safety or traffic regulation.


[Example: Illegal use of hand-held mobile phones or not wearing seatbelts in a moving motor vehicle.]


(d) People clearly driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that such driving practices breach any Commonwealth law or the law of any State or Territory in the relevant jurisdiction in which the advertisement is published or broadcast dealing directly with road safety or traffic regulation.


(e) Motorists driving while clearly fatigued to the extent that such driving practices breach any Commonwealth law or the law of any State or Territory in the relevant jurisdiction in which the advertisement is published or broadcast dealing directly with road safety or traffic regulation.


(f) Motorcyclists or their passengers not wearing an approved safety helmet, while the motorcycle is in motion.


(g) Deliberate and significant environmental damage, particularly while advertising off-road motor vehicles.


[Note: In applying the above guidelines account must be taken of the legitimate depiction of off-road or four wheel drive motor vehicles travelling over loose or unsealed surfaces, or uneven terrain (not forming part of a road or road-related area).]


The Advertiser – Friday 20 August 2004

Pedestrians' complaint upheld


THE Pedestrian Council of Australia has had its first victory in a long-running battle over car advertising.

Its complaint about a television ad for the Mitsubishi Magna all-wheel-drive has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Board and the ad was taken off the air this week.

It is the council's first win after more than 30 complaints since 2001 about racing images and ”fantasy'' elements in car advertising. However, Mitsubishi already is re-editing the ad and plans to have it back on the air by the weekend.

It shows a Magna AWD and two other cars on a gravel road with the drivers wearing helmets and racing gear.

The council had said it shows speeding, wheel-spinning, racing, dangerous driving and environmental damage.


Sydney Morning Herald – Thursday 19 August 2004


Mitsubishi forced to change racy ad


By Julian Lee, Marketing Reporter

Mitsubishi is to modify a $500,000 ad that it was forced to take off the air last week after it was found to have breached a new voluntary code for car advertising.


The Advertising Standards Board found that the ad, which shows an all-wheel-drive Magna racing a Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore, breached the revised code which came into force last month.


The news comes as Mitsubishi Motors Australia awaits the arrival of at least two senior executives from head office in Japan, one of whom will oversee sales and marketing in Australia.


Their arrival coincides with a series of humiliations for Mitsubishi, the latest being the recall of about 1,000 Magnas and Veradas due to brake problems.


The Japanese team, which will report directly to the local chief, Tom Phillips, is there to ensure Mitsubishi Australia makes the right decisions on marketing, in particular for its struggling Magna.


"It is part of the restructure we are making to the organisation and there is nothing unusual about this," said Mitsubishi spokesman Charles Iles. "We regularly have representatives from our shareholder [Mitsubishi Japan] at the company."


Mitsubishi and its new advertising agency, Clemenger BBDO Sydney, which won the $43 million account earlier this year, are still baffled as to why the Advertising Standards Board upheld the complaints, which were still coming in after the initial two complaints that triggered the investigation.


Clemenger managing director Jim Moser said: "It's been an interesting process.

"This code is important and we all support it, but given the code is new, we spent a lot of time understanding it. So we were really surprised by the ruling. We have received the feedback and we understand the areas where the ASB has issues.


"We still believe it is within the guidelines but will take on board what the ASB has said. I think it is a learning process."


The car code was revised to take in four-wheel-drive vehicles and the depiction of motor sport racing in ads at the instigation of police and roads officials concerned that the current code failed to promote safe driving.


New sections were added to the code, including one which states that any racing scenes must be clearly marked so they do not encourage fast driving in everyday situations.


It is understood the standards board found that the Magna ad failed to make it clear to viewers that the race was taking place under race or test track conditions.


"The ad will be modified and we are fully supportive of self regulation," Mitsubishi said in a brief statement last night to the board.


Since the original code was introduced in 2002, two car commercials, for Nissan and Mazda, have been withdrawn following board adjudications.