What's wrong with showing a Defender in a forest?
Depicting a car in its natural environment, or at least in its preferred environment, in commercials isn't anything new. Subaru does it with its rugged, all-wheel drive lineup. Ford does it, showing its trucks hauling and towing, and Land Rover does it too. The Indian-owned British company recently got in hot water for an ad, but now it has been let off the hook.
TheGuardian reports that that the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, after receiving 96 complaints about the ad showing the Land Rover Defender in a pristine looking forest, have decided to let it run. The ad has text along with the picture reading, "Life is so much better without restrictions" and that the Defender has the "capacity to go almost anywhere and do anything. If you take one for an extended test drive, a whole new world of freedom awaits."
That seems pretty standard to us, but the complainers had an issue, saying the picture made it look like driving through the forest and crushing small trees and animals was okay. Land Rover clapped back with the fact that the Defender was on an established trail.
"The overall impression of the ad suggested that the vehicle could be driven without any restrictions, including in ecologically sensitive and off-road environments such as forests, where in doing so it would be likely to cause damage to vulnerable habitats and vegetation," the ASA said. "We considered that the ad encouraged and condoned the use of a vehicle in a way that was detrimental to ecologically sensitive environments, and was therefore socially irresponsible."
The ASA reversed course Wednesday, absolving the ad from any rule breaking. It also said that roads like this are very common in rural areas where 4x4s are vital. "We therefore considered that the vehicle depicted in the ad was not being used irresponsibly … and that the ad was not socially irresponsible," the ASA concluded. "No further action necessary."
The ADA and Land Rover both say the intent was about getting out after Covid restrictions, and not just trampling on the forest for the fun of it, hence the "life is better without restrictions" piece. The ASA also determined that "it was not clear that the vehicle was definitely driving off-road, illegally or irresponsibly." Besides, the Defender will be upping its green credentials soon with a new hybrid model. Of course, LR is also doing a larger, more luxurious version too.