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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Honda Advert Banned Because of Two Oversensitive Pillocks


Honda have a legendary reputation for great TV advertisements. There was the Rube Goldberg epicness of The Cog. The choir's rendition of the FN-generation Civic. The Impossible Dream. The slightly trippy one about diesels that was like "♫Hate something, [ba-baaa-ba] Change Something, [ba-baaa-ba] Hate Something Change Something Make Something Betterrrrrrr♫." Apparently, in America, "you meet the nicest people on a Honda" motorcycle. It goes on and on. The one we've had since February - named Keep Up - might not be a greatest hit, but it is at least novel and engaging. Watch it below and learn to speed-read!


Obviously this is the online version, where you can click an annotation to watch progressively faster versions of it to test yourself and see how quickly you can read the captions. Honda say clearly that this ad is meant to encourage you to push your perceived limit (even the version on TV that's always the same speed). A perfectly respectable message and one you'd want associated with your brand if you prided yourself on innovation and the like.

Did it make you want to drive fast, though? Or just learn to read faster?

The cars - plus ASIMO and the HondaJet - are all computer-generated, appear to be in an empty desert or salt flat, and move in a slightly cartoonish/unrealistic manner with silly sound effects, so nobody's going to think they're promoting fast driving and glamourising irresponsible behaviour, are they?

Are they???

Yes. Apparently so.

A whopping TWO people have sent in complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency in the UK, which then had to review the ad to look for anything prohibited by the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice Code. They clearly exercise zero tolerance, because the advert has been banned from British screens, lest your innocent and impressionable mind be molded into that of a mad crazy street racer who BRAZENLY goes 35mph on a 30mph road and doesn't slow down sufficiently when there's a cloud in the sky or a tree over there or something.

The official statement reads thus [emphasis mine]:

"While the ad did not include realistic depictions of the vehicles being driven in a dangerous manner, we considered, when taken altogether, the fast changing on-screen text, references to "pushing yourself" and "going faster", the scenes of the cars, sound effects and accompanying sound track was likely to leave viewers with the impression that speed was the central message of the ad.  For those reasons, we therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code, which states that speed must not be the main message of an ad."

Except that it really wasn't likely to be taken that way. The fast-moving text was merely a method to make you test yourself by trying harder to read it in time. The cars zip in and out of screen promptly because, combined with the sound effects, it makes them seem fun and maybe a little cheeky. The new NSX supercar zooming along at the end was equally cartoonish and also, y'know, happening in the middle of nowhere. How is going fast in a desert dangerous?! Are you going to shut down Bonneville Salt Flats next, alarmist complaint writer? Have you nothing better to do?

Of the two complaints, one was the straightforward "promoting dangerous driving" type. That was the one which the ASA upheld. The rejected complaint? That person suggested that the split second shot of a computer-generated Honda Jazz shutting its own tailgate (to demonstrate the practical hatchback-ness) and zipping off backwards "if emulated in real-life, could cause serious or fatal injury." So could using a ladder! Are you going to ban that too? Nobody's about to slam their boot shut and reverse at high speed for a laugh, least of all in a pious little Honda Jazz. At no point were humans shown in the ad, so there's no risk of anyone copying somebody they saw on TV - especially as autonomous cars aren't even nearly capable or sentient enough to want to mess around like that by themselves.

Clearcast, an organisation which helps brands avoid this kind of bullshit, made their stance clear by saying "the presentation of the cars did not condone or encourage dangerous driving due to the surreal nature of the ad. The message of the ad was clear—the innovation of Honda's new cars."

I wonder if these are the same two people who got the Toyota GT86 "Real Deal" ad banned? Or the ones who made Jaguar cut down the first It's Good To Be Bad ad because of that one bit where an F-Type overtakes a bus at about 30mph?


See, this isn't the first time we've been here at all. I'll say again that the soulless monotony depicted in the first half of the Toyota GT86 advert is very much where we're heading as a civilisation when a couple of stuck-up alarmist pearl clutchers on a mission to ban anything fun or exciting are listened to like this.

Imagine if the same strong-armed approach had been taken to actual telly shows like TopGear (ohhhh how they've tried and failed for the last decade)! Last night I was looking for something, anything to watch on TV - how can there be 800 channels and nothing on?! - and found a program on the motor racing network Motors TV called Auto Mundial, a show described as bringing you the latest news from the motoring world and stuff like that. It was, by far and away, the single most boring car-based thing I have ever seen in my life, by some considerable margin. Miles duller than any car restoration show or how-they're-made documentary could ever hope to be, less bearable even than Sky 1's desperate atrocity that was Vroom-Vroom. I tuned in to find stock footage of a white BMW X3 (not a new car) situated somewhere picturesque to the point of cliché. After slow panning shots from many angles, the white crossover drove around at 19mph while an old man who sounded almost as bored as anyone watching this drivel rambled on about exterior dimensions and list prices versus the X5 and the replacement coming in late 2016 "as a 2017 model" - thus confirming that this wasn't an old repeat and was in fact a new[ish] episode - and something about Land Rover being worried by it or whatever. Having managed not to slip into a coma before the ad break mercifully arrived, I decided to challenge myself to get through the rest of the show, for the experience. I went to the toilet.


Once it was back on, there was a 140-second history lesson about Rolls-Royce, with a timer to let you know when it would end. I missed the first 5 seconds, so I was only uninspired for 135 of those seconds. If you're trying to appeal to young viewers with this "Classic Tweet" feature, maybe do a little better than panning shots from some owner's club meeting and some black & white photos punctuated by a carelessly delivered series of dull factoids.

Having been promised the latest automotive news and been shown a four-year-old SUV followed by a context-less history lesson, I was then shown a dull saloon car from 2004 and told how successful the Audi A4 had been at being sold to people on the corporate ladder, or something. But don't worry, it was followed by the NEW Audi A4! Y'know, the one that came out in 2011/12... that was a facelift of the one that came out in 2007/08. So not new at all. Here's what a not-new Audi A4 looks like:

If you want to see the 2016 Audi A4 that's ACTUALLY the new A4, click here
Before too long, the jaded old man chimed in with a cringe-tacularly clichéd metaphor about sticking to a chat-up line you know works. This eventually lead into a quip about women buying dresses that was such an offensively dreary platitude, I can't remember the premise of it. I think it was something about buying into fashion, because the core message of it all was that Audi are sticking rigidly to the design formula that has given them much success (in fairness, that bit's true). I know this much because Numpty the Narcolepsy Narrator spent the next five or ten minutes finding several different ways to make the same point about Audi building what sells and not changing the recipe too much and blah blah blah what's the point of living. I couldn't make it to the end of the show, instead catching the last five minutes or so of some Hungarian Grand Prix highlights on Sky F1, which was like Die Hard 4 by comparison.

I'm not sure if I have made this clear yet, but I thought this show was fucking dreadful. I'm actually pretty sure that the "experience" of watching it is what being dead feels like. I also think that the people complaining about fun car ads to get them banned would absolutely love it and say that this is what the new-generation TopGear starring Chris Evans should be like. This isn't merely middle-of-the-road. It's the paint that denotes where the middle of the road is, and you're watching it dry to the sound of every motoring magazine cliché from the last 40 years. I've read more interesting Facebook posts. In fact no, I've read more interesting *press releases* than Auto Mundane Mundial.

But hey, watching uninteresting cars drive slowly can't offend anyone, can it? Sadly, animated Hondas appearing between captions apparently can. What a sad state of affairs when two oversensitive dullards with incredibly narrow lives can shut down a bit of fun the rest of us considered harmless.

It's people like them who make car companies resort to horrendous tripe like this to avoid trouble:

SING IN TUNE, YOU HATEFUL TOOLS!
>:-(

So where does this leave Honda? Well, they could edit the ad to remove all the cars and the HondaJet, but then they'd only have ASIMO and a logo shot at the end to link the thing to their brand... until someone complains that the lovable robot is walking too quickly, thus promoting irresponsibly fast waddling to young children. Don't rule it out......

Actually, I'll tell you what they'll do. They'll think "well that's a shame" and be thankful they already came up with a new ad campaign anyway, just six months after Keep Up first appeared.

Here's the new one, called Ignition. All the cool vehicles Honda makes, fast and slow, big and small, cheap and expensive, complete with an NSX echoing to the sound of Ayrton Senna, as well as people in F1 cars who aren't Ayrton Senna. It climaxes with them all in the shape of a space rocket about to launch into the unknown, as an act of "Honda daring" meant to inspire you to push the boundaries or innovate or something. Woo! Rockets! ASIMO again! Motorbikes doing mad burnouts! Formula 1 cars on fire possibly!


But of course, the rocket doesn't actually go anywhere. That would be promoting the act of irresponsibly creating a rocket shape out of things that aren't rockets, which could OF COURSE cause serious or fatal injury if emulated in real life...

Disclaimer: SmallBlog V8 does not condone the parking of many things in a formation and pretending to take off, as this is potentially very dangerous to the children and wildlife who watch this faked activity on television.

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