Under the Influence

The unexpected reason this car commercial was banned

This Mustang commercial was banned for unsafe driving when the car in question never exceeded 24 km/h.
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Why this Mustang commercial was banned for unsafe driving when the car in question never exceeded 24 km/h.

This week, we look at banned commercials. The majority of the time, ads are banned for being sexist or too suggestive. But many commercials are banned for other, more fascinating reasons. Sometimes bans cripple a campaign, other times they’re puzzling, but more often than not, they’re rocket fuel. 0:57

Most car commercials look the same.

They show shiny cars zipping around wet city streets or speeding across rough terrain leaving behind nothing but dust.

Inevitably those commercials feature disclaimers like: "Closed course, professional driver."

But would you believe one UK car commercial was banned for encouraging unsafe driving while the car in question never exceeded 24 km/h?

The ad was for the Ford Mustang. It's sleek, shiny and probably fast.

But to promote the new 'Stang, Ford decided to go another route.

The ad featured a series of dreary, grey scenes depicting the drudgery of 9-5 work life. Starting with the crowded train commute, then filing into a cramped elevator. Then frustration when coffee spills on important papers or the fax machine breaks down.

The scenes are set to a voice reading the famous poem written by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas called Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.

Then, the screen goes dark. And the words "Don't Go Quietly" appear. And as a sharp contrast to the grey ad, we see a bright orange Ford Mustang leaving an underground parking lot.

During the scenes with the Mustang, the car never exceeds 24 km/h.

The 2018 ad was shown in movie theatres as well as online and immediately began receiving complaints.

It appeared to many that although the sports car wasn't driving unsafely, the poem encouraged unsafe driving.

The complaints argued the word "Rage" spoken repeatedly against the backdrop of frustrated people might encourage road rage.

The British Advertising Standards Authority agreed and banned the commercial - stating the ad encouraged motorists to "drive in an aggressive manner as a way of relieving anger."

It's an interesting case, because the ad bucked typical car commercial convention.

Instead of showing a speeding vehicle, it showed a car meandering in second gear.

And it was still banned.

It may be one of the only instances where imagery leading up to a driving scene was deemed to encourage dangerous driving when the actual driving scene did not.


For more stories about banned commercials, click or tap the "Listen" tab above to hear the full Under the Influence episode. You can also find us on the CBC Radio app or subscribe to our Podcast.


Under the Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio, a 1969 Airstream trailer that's been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O'Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

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