Land Rover ads by Spark22 banned for misrepresentation

land rover spark22 ad banned by asa marketing magazine asia rainmaker

A pair of Jaguar Land Rover ads have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for misrepresenting the functions of parking sensors alerting drivers while reversing towards the edge of a cliff.

The advertising watchdog ruled that the ads, which aired in February 2022, exaggerated the effectiveness of Land Rover’s parking sensor technology.

Whilst only two viewers complained about the misleading aspect of the ads in scene where parking sensors are shown to be capable of alerting the driver to stop the vehicle towards the edge of a cliff, their understanding  that such a system can only warn a driver when there’s an object behind the vehicle as opposed to an empty space is what led to this ban.

The two ads which were created by Spark22 – a longer and a cut-down version, both containing the misleading scene, feature a group of Land Rovers navigating off-road environments, including sand dunes, canyons and waterfalls. Normal road features such as roundabouts and traffic lights are included, suggesting an alternative depiction of everyday roads.

The ads end as one vehicle reverses into a parking space situated on a cliffside, its parking sensor beeping away with increasing pace as it nears the edge. The last frame shows three cars parked precariously on the precipice.

“Wherever you find yourself,” reads the on-screen copy, “Land Rover. Above & beyond.”

Jaguar Land Rover has acknowledged the fact that parking sensors do not warn of empty space behind a vehicle, but also argued that the side shots of both ads clearly showed that the vehicle was reversing towards a boulder that would have been detected by sensors.

It is understood that the ASA, while considering that viewers would recognise the ads showed the cars driving in extreme off-road environments, the additions of the likes of traffic lights, a roundabout and parking sign and the tagline “wherever you find yourself” would mean viewers “would see them as illustrating how the vehicles would perform in all environments, including everyday settings”.

According to sources, the ASA also commented, “Although some small rocks were visible as the vehicle reversed, they appeared to be incidental to the scene and we considered it was not obvious that the parking sensor was reacting to the rocks rather than the edge of the cliff.”

Given the ASA understood that the car’s parking sensors reacted to objects behind the vehicle, rather than the empty space of a drop, and that the rocks were “not sufficiently prominent to counter that interpretation”, it “concluded that the ads misleadingly represented the parking sensor feature”.

The watchdog ruled the ads were misleading and must not appear again in the forms complained of.

A test drive near the edge of a cliff to prove the ingenuity of Jaguar Land Rover’s parking sensors doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

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