'The depiction of this activity is offensive' - Hilux GR Sport bakkie ad banned: Meerkats and sand dunes land Toyota SA in hot water

UPDATE: We've included the full ruling at the end of this article

Mere months after Toyota launched its new Hilux GR-Sport bakkie in South Africa, the company has landed in hot water. The automaker has been ordered to remove its Hilux GR Sport bakkie ad from television and social media after two complaints were lodged stating that the ad breached environmental laws and regulations regarding vehicle use along SA's coastal areas.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA): "The Directorate of the Advertising Regulatory Board has been called upon to consider complaints lodged by David Lazarus and Louise McIntosh against a television commercial for Toyota South Africa promoting its Toyota Hilux GR-Sport vehicle."

Wheels24 is awaiting comments from Toyota SA.

READ: For the love of bakkies: We drive Toyota's new Hilux Legend 50 and GR Sport

So why was the ad banned?

The first complainant (David Lazarus) submitted that:
 • The commercial promotes and encourages the irresponsible and illegal driving of the advertiser’s vehicles around sand dunes, ignoring the fact that the portrayed action is forbidden by South Africa's environmental laws and regulations relating to coastal areas.
 • The extension of the respondent’s 'nodding' campaign to include meerkats is also a creative oversight, overlooking the fact that the regulations are designed to protect the flora and fauna in coastal areas.

The ad has since been pulled from YouTube and social media though the below gif shows some of the offending scenes.

Toyota GR-Sport

Screengrab from BestadsonTV.com

toyota gr hilux

                                                                 Image: BestAdsOnTV.com

The second complainant (Louise McIntosh) submitted that the Toyota appears to be promoting off-road driving that is "harmful to nature as the portrayed sand dunes are a natural habitat for small insects and animals".

Watch the video below: Credits| BestAdsOnTV.com

What do you think of the ad - do you agree on the ruling that it should be banned? Email us


The respondent submitted that: Info by the ASA

• Its intention was to showcase its product and its advanced suspension in the best light possible and hopes that it had managed Its intention was to showcase its product and its advanced suspension in the bestlight possible and hopes that it had managed to do that without being irresponsible or going against what its brand stands for.

• The commercial was not shot in an environmentally-sensitive area. It was shot in Philippi Sand Mine adjacent to Mitchells Plain near Cape Town, which is an industrial area. The depicted vehicles were driving over the raw materials that will be used for general building, concrete, mortar and plaster applications in the future.

• The tracks on the sand are one of the mine’s service roads. The depicted vehicles following existing tracks even when it is seen going up steeper sand later in the sequence. A Dutch camera angle was used to create drama by tilting it to the side to make the rise appear far more extreme. The proof of this in the shot is that thegrass off to the side, appears to be growing diagonally to the left instead of straight-up, as it would expected in nature.

• The intention was not to depict or condone ecologically-irresponsible driving regardless of where the commercial was shot. The main vehicle in the commercials mostly driving on existing paths and in the few instances where it is travelling over untracked sand, it does do not drive over any flora or fauna, just on sand. The vehicle was also not used to blast up, down or through sand dunes. 

toyota gr hilux

                                     Image: https://www.bestadsontv.com


According to the ASA: "The outcome is that the Directorate finds that the commercial in its current format is in breach of Clause 3.3 of Section II:
"Given that the illegal behaviour condoned by the advertisement relates to an issue about which many people feel strongly – the preservation of South African beaches from off-road drivers and the protection of the environment – the depiction of this activity is also offensive to a sector of the population."

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