An advert featuring former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard performing stunts on public roads has been banned for encouraging dangerous driving.
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) upheld complaints from more than 50 members of the public against the advert for insurer Aviva, ruling that the driving had been “reckless” and posed a serious risk of other drivers trying to copy the stunts.
The advert, for Aviva’s Drive app, saw Coulthard disguised as a taxi driver picking up unsuspecting passengers before performing a series of skids, spins and other dramatic stunts on roads closed to the public.
Fifty-eight people complained to the ASA after the advert aired in January and despite it carrying a warning not to try to recreate the stunts, the ASA ruled that it “encouraged dangerous and irresponsible driving”.
In its ruling, the ASA said: “We considered that the ad primarily focused on the high speed and stunts performed by the car, which consequently overshadowed the ‘warning’ and ‘experiment’ on-screen texts that appeared at the start of the ad.
“Furthermore, the manner in which the car was driven was extremely reckless and given it was performed in a regular vehicle and on public roads whilst showing other vehicles to be in motion, were scenes that could potentially be emulated by viewers, putting themselves and others at a significant risk of danger by driving hazardously and in an irresponsible manner.
“Because of that, we considered that the ad had featured reckless driving behaviour on public roads and therefore concluded that ad encouraged dangerous and irresponsible driving.
“The ad must not appear again in its current form.”
Aviva said that the full version of the advert was no longer being broadcast, but it would continue to air an edited version until the end of the month.
The firm said it had edited a “significant proportion” of the “extreme driving elements” to ensure balance and clarity of the message about the “Drive App” that was being promoted, which offered safer drivers a potential discount on their car insurance.
It also said that the purpose of the stunts was to present an exaggerated version of the kind of driving which the app sets out to discourage and it believed viewers would understand that driving in such a way would be dangerous and illegal.