Toyota rapped for ad showing Hilux roaring around sand dunes
Toyota has been ordered to scrap a TV advert for its souped-up Hilux bakkie featuring three meerkats.
The Advertising Regulatory Board said the ad depicted illegal behaviour because it showed the R707,400 Hilux GR-Sport roaring through sand dunes.
Recreational driving on beaches without a permit has been banned since 2001, and the board’s directorate said the ad “depicts illegal behaviour in a manner that makes it appear glamorous, exciting and as if it is condoned”.
Two people complained to the board about the ad, in which the opening scene shows three meerkats standing in a row on their hind feet and looking alert.
The bakkie then roars up and throws up a cloud of sand before parking near the meerkats, where the driver nods at them and they nod back.
David Lazarus told the watchdog the ad encouraged illegal and irresponsible driving around sand dunes, while Louise McIntosh said it promoted off-road driving that was harmful to nature.
Toyota told the directorate the ad was shot in the Philippi sand mining area of Cape Town, and said the Hilux followed existing tracks.
In its finding, the watchdog said there was nothing in the ad to indicate it had been filmed in a mining area.
“To the viewer, it looks like the driving is on a beach — and a sufficiently wild beach that meerkats are resident,” it said.
“Simulating a beach-driving scene in a manner that appears to condone such driving sets a negative example for the off-road community and condones illegal behaviour.
“Given that the illegal behaviour relates to an issue about which many people feel strongly, the depiction of this activity is also offensive to a sector of the population.”
Toyota was ordered to scrap the ad immediately, but it may not care. Only 600 Hilux GR-Sports were made, and they have all been sold.