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‘Heart-pumping’ Toyota GR ad banned after complaints from green campaigners

The high-performance Toyota Yaris GR hot hatch

A national newspaper advert aiming to showcase the “heart-pumping” excitement of Toyota’s GR Series of performance cars has been banned following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by green campaigners.

Despite both The Guardian and i newspapers confirming that they had received no complaints about the advert for the Japanese carmaker’s sporty range – produced with input from its Gazoo Racing Team – the ASA banned the ad after receiving representation from three complainants, including the Worthing Green Party.

The advert, published in April and May, featured an image of three cars driving close together beneath a headline “THAT GR FEELING THE TOYOTA GR SERIES”.

Smaller text at the bottom of the ad stated, “Precise. Balanced. Playful. It’s this elusive combination that delivers the heart-pumping excitement of the Toyota GR Series. Pure performance cars, born from Toyota Gazoo Racing. And now on a road near you”.

Representation from Toyota stated that the advert’s imagery featured the cars driving in a track environment – not the public road – denoted by its wide expanse of tarmac and lack of road markings.

The brand also said this was underlined by a lack of road legal numberplates, with each vehicle instead featuring plates denoting their model names.

Despite this, the ASA concluded: “We considered that the overall impression created by the ad was a suggestion that the high-performance nature of GR Series vehicles meant that drivers of those vehicles could push the boundaries of safe and responsible driving and that it was desirable and enjoyable to do so.

“We concluded that in so doing the ad condoned and encouraged unsafe or irresponsible driving, and as such breached the Code.”

The Toyota GR ad is the latest in a long line of car adverts to fall foul of ASA rules, however it had rebuffed complaints against adverts which show driving enjoyment in the past.

A Suzuki Vitara television advert which showed a driver smiling broadly as he steered the SUV onto an off-road track and selecting ‘sport’ mode did not encourage reckless driving, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found.

And back in November last year the ASA has dismissed 96 complaints which claimed a Land Rover Defender advert undermined efforts to tackle climate change and ecological damage with an advert which showed a Defender off-road, in a forest setting, alongside the headline “Life is so much better without restrictions”.

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