Two advertisements for Ford, shown only in movie theaters and on YouTube, featured a voice over that quoted a Dylan Thomas poem with the lines “Do not go gently into that goodnight. Old age should burn and rave at close of day. Rage. Rage against the dying of the light.”
While the Welsh poet’s words may originally have been a call to not meekly accept death, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has found that they have helped to suggest “that driving was a way of releasing anger, which put the driver, other motorists and pedestrians at risk.”
The advertisement also showed a Ford Mustang being driven in what was described by the ASA as an “abrupt manner.” The Ford advert received a total of 12 complaints.
In its response to the standards body, Ford claimed that it never wanted to promote unsafe driving and that the car in the advert never exceeded a speed of 15 miles per hour.
In the case of Fiat Chrysler, a YouTube advert that featured four cars racing at high speed has also had one complaint upheld against it.
The standards body said in a statement that the complaint it received suggested that that the automaker had used their cars in a way that could encourage "unsafe or irresponsible driving."
In one scene, two cars met when their tracks converged, and one overtook the other while the drivers looked across to each other. A voice over then stated: "your childhood hobbies are back".
Fiat Chrysler said the advert was designed to emulate the Hot Wheels children's toy cars game, rather than any real on-road competitiveness. The ASA ruling has banned the advert and warned that "speed must not be the focus" of future ads by Fiat Chrysler.
In a third ruling, the Japanese carmaker Nissan has also been told it must not feature an ad again in its current form.
The advert, seen on U.K. TV screens in May 2018, depicted a car braking hard to avoid traffic and get to an airport ahead of other drivers.
One complaint from a viewer said the message encouraged dangerous driving by "exaggerating the benefit of the vehicle's safety features" and "condoned irresponsible driving by showing the car being driven at excessive speeds."
Despite Nissan's defense that the Micra was not shown driving at excessive speed, the ASA upheld the complaint on both counts.