Readers will remember our irritation at the plethora of Television commercials for recreational vehicles, encouraging irresponsible and environmentally damaging driving practices. We’ve decided to see if we can get an opinion on this matter from responsible authorities, and have written the enquiry below to the Minister Road Safety, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries and others. We’re not optimistic about a response. The gist of the letter follows [we’ll print responses if any as they come]:
We draw your attention to the current Television advertising campaign for Suzuki with the slogan ‘for fun’s sake’. The video can be found at https://www.bestadsontv.com/ad/102250/Suzuki-For-Funs-Sake . It has run frequently on broadcasts of AFL football. The film features a car careering through water and mud, and mindlessly circling a suburban roundabout.
If you concentrate very hard, you’ll see at the bottom of the screen at the start the words ‘filmed under safe and controlled conditions’.
The voluntary code of practice for motor vehicle advertising of the Federal Chamber of Automotive industries seems to suggest that this kind of advertising is not conducive to good driving practice. The code features, among other things, the following:
… ‘use of disclaimers indicating that a particular scene or advertisement was produced under controlled conditions; using expert drivers….should be avoided.’[Our emphasis]
… ‘Advertisers should ensure that advertisements for motor vehicles do not portray…deliberate and significant environmental damage, particularly in advertising for off-road vehicles.’
Car advertisements regularly violate the second of these conditions and often promote unsafe driving. For some reason showing cars skidding through dust and gravel is a favourite theme of most of them. Skidding out donuts is another regular.
Plunging through creeks is common, as is driving along beaches, frequently in the sea. Our favourite is a Toyota clip which shows a poor oppressed suburban bloke who sees a massive Toyota truck pull up alongside him in traffic. He instantly fantasises about skidding around sand dunes in that truck…The suggestion is that this is real life, not like the responsible family driving he’s currently engaged in.
Both the Suzuki and the Toyota advertisements effectively tell viewers that sensible driving is for losers.
Suzuki and Toyota are not by any means the only offenders in their TV advertising. Almost all manufacturers of SUVs show them plunging through creeks or indulging in other dangerous or misguided practices. This effectively encourages hoon behaviour.
We submit to you that this kind of advertising should be discouraged by something more than an obviously ineffective voluntary code of practice.
We note that Vicroads has in recent times conducted major works as part of its towards zero campaign. These works have involved, among other things, catastrophic environmental impacts on the Calder and Western freeways and significant vegetation removal all over the state’s roads. It seems to us that this activity may not have been necessary if drivers were encouraged to drive more sensibly; currently there is a deluge of Television advertising effectively propagandising bad behaviour. .
And the death rate has risen.
We put it to you that car advertising should change. We would appreciate your thoughts on whether this is the case, and if so, how it should be managed.