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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Toyota's Rebellion Against Nanny State Banned By Nanny State


Watch this advert by Toyota, showing a man tired of the dreary, censored world he exists in finding a GT 86 in the back of a chandelier collector's shack. Watch him escape the monotony and live at last in the real world behind the wheel of "The Real Deal", which you should definitely buy by the way.

Does it make you want to drift through traffic during a police chase on real public roads as large bollards rise from the ground at random? Does it make you want to go 80mph on a 30mph road and drive through enormous pixellated barriers? Well the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), having been prompted to re-review the ad by a whopping two people, decided that it obviously does make you want to go full Niko Bellic through your town/neighbourhood/CGI world. Therefore, they've banned the ad in the UK and slapped Toyota on the wrists, presumably because it was a slow day in the office and they felt like doing something other than dismissing TopGear's continued efforts for a blood-thirsty Scirocco TDI ad, after a pair of Ned Flanders' kindred spirits complained to them that the GT 86 ad glamourised speed and promoted dangerous driving.

There are a number of reasons why this is bullshit.

First of all, Toyota know how hard it is to advertise a fun car, and told the ASA that it payed very close attention to the highway code when designing the advert, meaning they made sure it didn't glamourise or promote irresponsible driving. What's more, it's clearly set in CGI, not using a real man in a real Toyobaru until it's in the real world travelling non-driftily (which is now a word) at not-dangerous but still brisk pace along a road in the middle of nowhere that can only be empty, because there's a huge dimensional barrier on it rendering said road somewhat useless to other cars. So all the weaving in and out of sentient bollard creatures is fake, as fake as a video game like Need For Speed or Grand Theft Auto (OK, it may actually be more fake than GTA). The equally-computer-generated driver is also in control of the car at all times, which would be surprising given he's only ever been in auto-assist cars, until you remember he's not real and neither is his environment. Not even the car itself was real until it broke the barrier, which is actually somewhat ironic, come to think of it.

Oh, and heaven forbid that car fans - whom both the car and the ad are squarely aimed at - should see galmourisation or celebration of speed on British TV screens! It's not like we've had a one-hour show all about fast and exciting cars on our screens for over ten years or anything...

Finally, when it comes down to it, the point of this advert is not to tempt people into street-hooning what they can't handle. The point of this is that the GT 86 is the escape from monotony the modern man needs. We live in a world of front-wheel-drive hatchbacks with high, round front ends and small turbocharged engines and, increasingly, flappy-paddle gearboxes with only two pedals and numb electric power steering. The motoring world cried out for exactly the car that Toyota (with help from Subaru, lest we forget) subsequently gave us in the form of the GT86. Showing it breaking away from monotony of econoboxes and driver aids - which Toyota arguably started and definitely contribute heavily towards with the rest of their range - is exactly what a GT86 advert should do, in fact everything this ad does is right for this car. It depicted the rear-wheel-drive coupé with its low pointy nose and high-revving naturally-aspirated engine as something fun, something with some feel to it, which is precisely what motoring journalists have praised it for in-between blasting B-roads and taking tracks sideways with shit-eating grins on their faces. It's just you, the car and the road.

Unfortunately, feeling something in a car isn't allowed to be depicted in adverts. Movies and TopGear, yes, but 30-60 seconds in-between mind-numbing programs, no. Not in the apparent nanny state that will let a trigger-happy censoring agency ban a commercial by one of the world's biggest corporations after just two complaints from a population of around 62,641,000 people. Tens of millions are fine with it or don't care, but two stuck-up oversensitive people say no and that's it? What the hell?

I don't like that a car can't be advertised as fun or exciting for the driver. It can be depicted as stylish, roomy, economical, clever, luxurious, award-winning, trendy (although people who proclaim themselves to be cool never are - it's a rule) or capable of invisibly slapping onlookers in the face, but not as something you will enjoy driving. When the car you're advertising prides itself on that, what can you do? Drive it at 30mph along Calfornia's Highway 1 in a big daft cliché? Rapidly cut between shots of design details and a smiling model while blasting catchy pop songs? Yes, but those aren't good adverts. This was, and now it's banned in the UK. I guess we are not so far away from the dreary nightmare initially depicted after all...

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