U.K. Ad Watchdog Bans Jaguar Spot With Tom Hiddleston for Encouraging Irresponsible Driving

Tom Hiddleston Oscars List - P 2012
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Tom Hiddleston Oscars List - P 2012

The latest installment of the online campaign with the slogan "It's good to be bad" discussed why British actors make the best villains.

LONDON – The U.K. advertising watchdog has banned a Jaguar spot featuring Thor star Tom Hiddleston for encouraging irresponsible driving.

The latest installment of carmaker Jaguar Land Rover's online ad campaign with the slogan “It's good to be bad" was entitled “The Art of Villainy” and promoted the Jaguar F-type coupe. "They say Brits play the best villains," Hiddleston says in the spot before exploring what makes a great villain.

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The ad campaign, which kicked off during the Super Bowl, has also featured Ben Kingsley and Mark Strong (Syriana, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Green Lantern, Zero Dark Thirty).

The latest YouTube spot showed Hiddleston explaining what makes a great villain while starting a Jaguar in a garage and then driving off at high speed while quoting Shakespeare’s Richard II.

A consumer complaint to Britain's Advertising Standards Authority suggested the spot encouraged unsafe driving. The auto maker responded by highlighting that the spot was mainly set in the garage where the car "barely moved."

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It added that the car leaves the garage at "normal road speeds” before accelerating "briefly." Jaguar also said that policemen were present during the shoot of the commercial to ensure that the speed limit was not exceeded.

The ad watchdog agreed that speed wasn't the “primary focus” of the spot, but also noted that the noise of acceleration and speed with which the car left the garage “appeared to suggest significant speed within an enclosed environment."

Hiddleston's on-screen commentary added to that feel, it argued. "We also considered significant speed was suggested when the car accelerated on the public road after the character said "Now brace yourselves" and again when the car exited a tunnel and sped away from other cars on the road," the ASA said. "Whilst on-screen text stated "Professional driver. Closed course. Always obey speed limits," we considered the overall impression consumers would take from those scenes was of a car being driven on a public road (with other cars present) at speed and that the on-screen text would not negate that impression."

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The ASA concluded: “We considered that the second part of the ad suggested that the car was being driven at excessive speeds and that the ad therefore encouraged irresponsible driving." As a result, "the ad must not appear again in its current form," the agency said.

It added: “We told Jaguar Land Rover not to portray speed of driving behavior that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly in future.”

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai