Viewers of a Vauxhall ad inviting them to ‘discover the new Vauxhall range for yourself’ and take a 3 day test drive were dismayed to discover that 2 models in the current range were excluded from the offer. They complained to the ASA, who surprisingly rejected one complaint.
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
When: July 2005
Five viewers complained on two counts about a Vauxhall commercial promoting a test drive offer. On one of the grounds the complaint was upheld but on the other, perhaps surprisingly, it was not.
The voiceover said
"Take a Vauxhall for 3 days … drive it, challenge it, transform it, fly it, undress it, caress it.But please don't forget to bring it back. The million mile drive. Discover the new Vauxhall range for yourself. Visit your Vauxhall retailer today."
Various Vauxhall cars were shown fleetingly in the commercial including a Tigra, but not all Vauxhall models currently available in the UK made an appearance. On screen text said "Test drive vehicles subject to availability, terms and conditions apply".
Four viewers complained that when they rang up to book a test drive for a Tigra they were told that the Tigra was not part of the test drive offer.
Another complainant was told that the VX 220 was excluded from the offer.
All the complainants alleged that in light of this, the advertisement was misleading by suggesting that the entire Vauxhall range was included in the offer.
On the Tigra related complaint, the ASA upheld it. The Tigra had been featured in the commercial itself and although Vauxhall asserted that it was indeed included in the offer and that the complaints had arisen because some dealers misunderstood the situation, this did not assuage the ASA who upheld the "misleading" complaints.
VX220/Monaro not part of the new Vauxhall range
On the VX 220 complaint, this model was not featured in the advertisement and it turned out that neither the VX 220 nor another Vauxhall model, the Monaro, were included in the test drive offer. Despite this, and despite the apparently broad application of the phrase "discover the new Vauxhall range for yourself" the ASA rejected the complaint.
The self regulator took the view that the words "discover the new Vauxhall range for yourself" made it quite clear it was not referring to all Vauxhall cars but specifically the "new range". As it turned out, probably unbeknown to most viewers but apparently known to Vauxhall and its dealers, the Monaro and the VX 220 were not part of the so called "new range" nor did they feature in the commercial. Accordingly the complaint was rejected.
Why this matters:
This is a strange decision.
It would have been perfectly easy for the voiceover in the commercial to say "discover these new Vauxhall models for yourself" in which case it would have been quite clear that only the cars shown in the ad were part of the offer.
As it was, it is unclear by what means viewers were to glean from the commercial or from any other readily available information source that Vauxhall and its dealers did not regard the VX220 or the Monaro as part of its "new range." Nevertheless that word "new" saved the day for General Motors and we believe they did very well to get that result.