BMW ad banned after listener complains about 'irresponsible revving' noise

14 July 2021, 09:00 | Updated: 14 July 2021, 09:06

The BMW ad was branded "irresponsible" by one listened
The BMW ad was branded "irresponsible" by one listened. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A radio advert for a BMW sports car has been banned after a listener complained that a revving sound which lasted for less than a second was "irresponsible".

The commercial for the BMW M brand, used in March, has been removed from the airwaves following a review by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

It opened with the revving sound of a car engine before being replaced with a voice-over.

"We could use big words like striking, muscular or captivating to tell you what it looks like, or use an alluring combination of colourful words to describe exactly what it feels like," the male voice-over artist said.

"But all you really want to hear is this..."

At this point, the louder sound of a car engine revving was played, which one listener believed was "irresponsible".

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The noise of the engine revving in the advert was the reason behind its ban
The noise of the engine revving in the advert was the reason behind its ban. Picture: Alamy

Defending its ad, BMW said that BMW M was a sub-brand of their performance and sports car range, with their engines making different noises to their non-performance vehicles.

The car manufacturer said the total engine noise lasted for less than a second of the half-a-minute advert. It added that the sound was clearly recorded when the vehicle was static and was not suggesting it was being driven at speed or with rapid acceleration.

However, the ASA reiterated that motoring ads must not demonstrate power, acceleration or handling characteristics unless done so in a clear context of safety.

The body also says commercials must not refer to speed in ways that may condone or encourage dangerous, competitive, inconsiderate or irresponsible driving. Speed and acceleration claims must also not be the main selling message of an ad.

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The ASA added that it did not believe the ad made speed and acceleration its main message or referenced speed in a way that would encourage dangerous or irresponsible driving.

"However, because the ad demonstrated the power of the car, not in the clear context of safety, and in a way that suggested excitement, we concluded it was in breach of the code," it said.

The ASA also banned the advert from being broadcast in its current form, adding: "We told BMW UK to ensure that future ads did not demonstrate power - except in the clear context of safety - or in a way that suggested excitement."

Responding, a spokeswoman for the car manufacturer said: "BMW UK accepts the decision of the ASA and this advert will not be broadcast again."