Child abuse? Forget it‚ says ad watchdog‚ after viewers give VW a rev

07 December 2016 - 16:49 By Hayley Grammer

A TV ad for a Volkswagen‚ in which two parents forget their daughter is in the back‚ ends with the words: “It’s easy to forget it’s a family car”.

And according to the advertising watchdog‚ three consumers who said the ad condoned parental neglect found it too easy to forget their sense of humour.

The Advertising Standards Authority dismissed the complaints about the VW Tiguan ad on Wednesday‚ saying: “The exaggeration and intended humour is clear enough to negate any argument that children are likely to suffer harm or that parents are likely to start abandoning or abusing their children as a result of this commercial.”

In the 41-second slot‚ named “ad of the week” in October by industry website MarkLives‚ a couple discuss their daughter as if she isn’t there‚ mocking her artwork.

The final straw for the girl comes when her parents stop to buy ice cream and forget to get one for her.

Viewers Naphtali Bloch‚ Kathryn Manners and Sandra van Niekerk told the ASA that in a country with high levels of child abuse‚ the portrayal of neglect was improper.

VW responded that the ad was intended to be tongue-in-cheek and funny. “Volkswagen is a family brand and would never encourage neglect or child abuse.”

The ASA directorate said any “hypothetical reasonable person would not interpret this commercial as an invitation to simply forget about their children”.

It added: “Aside from the fact that this young girl is clearly old enough to speak out and even get out of the car if she were really abandoned in the back seat‚ (we) are not convinced that any reasonable adult would spend their days travelling to various different locations without even noticing their toddler in the back.”

The directorate said “the advertising was sufficiently humorous to the point where an average listener or viewer would understand the hyperbole”.

TMG Digital/Cape Newsroom