BMW advert banned for “irresponsible” revving sounds

A listener complained that revving noises in BMW’s radio commercial for its M brand sports car was “irresponsible”.

A BMW on a beach.

A BMW radio commercial has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after a listener found the featured revving noises to be “irresponsible”.

The commercial, which first aired in March, was reviewed by the ASA, which promptly requested its removal.

The voice-over in the advert stated: “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.”

This preceded what the voice-over described as “what you really want to hear,” which was the loud sound of a revving car engine. 

In response, BMW said that the M model’s engine makes a different sound to its non-performance cars. It is a sub-series of their performance and sports vehicles.

Additionally, BMW argued that besides only lasting for less than a second, the revving was recorded when the car was stationary. There were no further implications that the vehicle was traveling at a significant speed.

Nevertheless, the ASA reinforced that a clear, safe setting must be shown in car commercials where a vehicle’s acceleration, handling and power are displayed.

Alongside this, the ASA maintained that there must be no indication in these adverts towards hazardous or reckless driving; the main focus should not surround the vehicle’s acceleration or speeding potential.

Even though the ASA agreed with BMW that the focal point of the commercial was not on potentially inconsiderate driving, it stated: “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.

“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.”

BMW has since acknowledged the ASA’s concerns, adding: “BMW UK accepts the decision of the ASA and this advert will not be broadcast again.”

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