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This Toyota ad was banned in the UK

Not for the reasons you think it was

This seemingly harmless ad was banned in the UK. SCREENSHOT FROM TOYOTA

Adverts can be banned for all sorts of reasons, and if you have a strict advertising watchdog like the Advertising Standards Agency in the UK, sometimes those reasons can be a little surprising.

Take this seemingly harmless-looking video promoting the new Toyota Hilux for example. Toyota UK produced an awesome-looking campaign to tempt people into buying its rugged workhorse, but can you guess why the ad was banned by the regulator?

Apparently, some people think that driving off-road in the UK is a bad activity. SCREENSHOT FROM TOYOTA

Was it for the depiction of dangerous driving maybe? Or did it feature apparently harmful gender stereotypes? Nope. The reason the Advertising Standards Agency ordered the carmaker to pull the video was the fact it showed the pickup trucks driving off-road. We’re not kidding.

According to the ruling, the “ads presented and condoned the use of vehicles in a manner that disregarded their impact on nature and the environment. As a result, they had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to society.”

In fact, Toyota UK did nothing wrong in filming this ad. SCREENSHOT FROM TOYOTA

The segment in question is the one showing a group of Hiluxes driving through an off-road landscape and across a river, which is seemingly no longer acceptable in UK advertisements.

Toyota appealed and pointed out that:

A. Filming was done on private land in Slovenia;

B. The off-road sequence was minimal and unlikely to suddenly make Hilux owners go wild in the local countryside; and

C. It depicts the car in exactly the environment it was designed for, with many buyers being farmers, park rangers, and others who need to go off-road.

Despite all this, the complaint, which was filed by an activist group opposed to adverts in public spaces, was upheld, and Toyota is no longer allowed to show it in the UK. Of course, the people who complained about it are forgetting that all publicity is good publicity, and the Streisand effect is already in action here.

Thanks to the ad being banned, news outlets are now writing about it, and plenty of people are watching it just to see what all the fuss is about. What a strange new world we live in.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.