BMW Warned over Ad - on Twitter

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Active Member
Aug 29, 2012
C180 AMG Sport Plus
A tweet that appeared on BMW's UK Twitter feed and as a promoted tweet on the complainant's Twitter news feed stated "Capable of 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds, the new #BMW M235i promises you one hell of a ride:". The ad also featured an image of a red BMW turning a corner, with the background blurred.

The complainant challenged whether the image, the reference to quick acceleration and the phrase "one hell of a ride" made acceleration the central message of the ad and encouraged excessive speed.

CAP Code (Edition 12)
BMW (UK) Ltd said the tweet did not depict speed in any way that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly or break the law, but communicated the acceleration statistics of the vehicle coupled with a message to communicate the driving dynamics of the M235i. They believed the picture implied some movement, but excessive speed was not depicted. They said the "one hell of a ride" referred to the overall driving dynamics of the car and sought to communicate the car's excellent handling and sporty driving characteristics, which was the main message of the tweet. They said the fact that the acceleration was quoted in the text did not suggest that the car in the image was driving faster than the speed limit on a public road, nor that it should be driven in such a fashion, but were included to emphasise the car's driving characteristics.


The ASA noted that rule 19.2 of the CAP Code stated that marketing communications must not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving and rule 19.3 stated they must not depict speed in a way that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly or to break the law. We noted that the highest speed quoted in the ad was 62 mph and we agreed that although consumers might associate the blurred background in the image with speed, it did not depict excessive speed and was unlikely to encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving. We also noted that the text “one hell of a ride” did not necessarily relate to excessive speed. For those reasons, we considered that the ad did not breach rules 19.2 and 19.3.

We noted that rule 19.4 of the CAP Code stated that marketers must not make speed or acceleration the main message of their marketing communications. We considered BMW’s comments that the ad was designed to highlight the driving characteristics of the car and that they believed speed was not the main message of the ad. However, we also noted that the text of the ad described the fast acceleration of the car directly before describing it as “one hell of a ride”. We considered that the cumulative effect of the references to speed in the text and the image was to make speed and acceleration the main message of the ad overall. For this reason, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 19.4 (Motoring), but did not breach rules 19.2 and 19.3 (Motoring).

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