You’re not going to believe this one. There is an Advertising Standards Board in Australia that polices cinema commercials and BMW has run afoul of it by showing “unsafe driving.”
A BMW ad that was shot in the U.S. using a U.S. model 2 Series Coupe, was re-edited to play in Australian movie theaters. The commercial shows the car driving along those concrete drainage channels in Los Angeles that appear in about every other Hollywood movie ever made, and also kicking up its heels—and some dust—doing donuts on a dirt road. You know, the kinds of things we buy BMWs to be able to do, but almost never actually do..
Well, in Australia there’s a Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries that has enacted a “Voluntary Code of Practice for Motor Vehicle Advertising,” which as the name implies, is used by the industry to self-regulate its advertising.
According to motoring.com.au, someone complained to the Advertising Standards Board that this particular commercial featured “typical hoon activity” because it showed “accelerating at speed” and “significant loss of traction” resulting in “360s.” At the risk of sounding like a Foster’s beer commercial, “hoon” is Australian for an anti-social or reckless driver.
There is no doubt the Australian version was edited to look faster and more exciting, but BMW responded that there was no evidence the car was actually speeding, although the camera angles, cuts, and background music may have contributed to the impression that the car was going faster than it really was.
The ASB ruled in favor of BMW in that the commercial did not portray "people driving at speeds in excess of speed limits in the relevant jurisdiction in Australia in which the advertisement is published." However, BMW was found guilty of violating the policy that prohibits advertisers from portraying “unsafe driving, including reckless or menacing driving that would breach any Commonwealth law or the law of any State or Territory..."
Apparently it wasn’t so much the dirt road donuts that the censors didn’t like as much as the burnout tracks left behind on asphalt.
So the complainant won and BMW lost and was told it could no longer show that commercial. The ruling came down on April 23, which was six days after the advertising campaign ended and BMW had already stopped using the commercial.
Now, the folks in Australia have every right to regulate their advertising however they want. Maybe they’ve found that allowing carmakers to portray “hoons” in commercials leads to hoonish behavior on the street. And yes, street racing is definitely dangerous and should be discouraged. But wouldn’t it be slightly ironic if the ASB banned moviegoers from viewing commercials like this being played before the start of any of the “Fast and Furious” films?
Now you can be the judge. Here are two videos from BMW's YouTube channels. The first is the commercial as originally cut for the U.S. market, and the second is the offending Australian version.
Did you spot any hoons?