2021 Toyota GR Yaris ad complaint overruled

The 2021 Toyota GR Yaris has once again been thrust before the Ad Standards Board, this time over complaints about a rally-inspired commercial.

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Zak Adkins
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Toyota has been given the green light to keep running a racy GR Yaris ad campaign, after complaints threatened to have it pulled. 

The advertisement features the GR Yaris hot hatch drifting in the desert, before turning onto the public highway with Australian rally driver Harry Bates behind the wheel.

The complaint said the advertisement encouraged drivers to speed on the public road. 

“The scenes showed the vehicle driving far too fast on highway, hilly terraine [sic], dirt roads,” the complaint says.

“This type of driving doesn’t make legends it makes dead people”. 

In response, Toyota said its advertisement didn’t breach any of the relevant ad or automotive industry codes.

“The Advertisement shows regular Toyota vehicles being driven safely and in compliance with all applicable road rules and regulations,” the company said.

“Toyota confirms that the vehicles were being driven within the legal speed limit and were closely monitored at all times during filming.”

“It is clear that the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver is engaging in motorsport activities,” it said of driver Harry Bates.

“Accordingly, he takes the necessary safety precautions such as wearing a helmet and seatbelt, and at all times is in full control of the motor vehicle.”

Ad Standards Community Panel said the advert does include off-road driving, but the demonstration of these off-road abilities the driving was not unsafe.

Its ruling considered the following:

  • Most members of the community would not see these scenes as encouraging or condoning unsafe or dangerous driving
  • Toyota was not suggesting people should emulate the driving behaviours in the video
  • There was a feeling of speed due to low camera angles and music choice, but no indication any vehicle exceeded the speed limit. 
  • Motorsport scenes in the advert were clearly identifiable as such and therefore completely separate from regular road driving

Although it wasn’t forced to change its advertisement this time, the GR Yaris has already put Toyota before Australian regulators this year.

Australia’s best-selling car company was earlier this year forced to modify a Yaris advertisement on the back of a complaint “the commercial promotes speeding and may influence people to speed which is very dangerous”.

A review by the Advertising Standards Bureau found the advertisement didn’t promote unsafe speed, but the GR Yaris breaking traction on its way out of its garage constituted “unsafe driving”.

Toyota isn’t the first carmaker to have advertisements pulled for seemingly insignificant indiscretions.

Ford was forced to re-cut a Ranger Raptor ad because of what a complainant dubbed “ultra-fast acceleration”, and Volkswagen’s tongue-in-cheek ‘Too Powerful for TV’ commercial for the Amarok was modified after falling foul of regulators.

The FCAI in 2018 promised to review automotive advertising standards on the back on consistent complaints from a long-time road-safety activist.

MORE: Toyota Yaris news and reviews


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