We're not sure we've heard of a commercial getting banned for such a silly reason.
It's not all that rare to hear of a car commercial being banned. Earlier this year, a Toyota Yaris GR ad was banned in Australia for supposedly encouraging dangerous driving, and a Mustang commercial got the same treatment back in 2018. In the same year, a BMW ad was pulled because one person complained.
BMW is now dealing with the same thing after running a radio ad in March that opened with the sound of a revving engine before a voiceover began the pitch. The ad was for BMW M in the UK, so a revving car makes sense, but a listener reportedly complained that the advert and its engine sounds were "irresponsible".
Here's how the ad went. After opening with the engine noises, the voiceover artist said the following: "We could use big words like striking, muscular or captivating to tell you what it looks like, or use an alluring combination of colorful words to describe exactly what it feels like. But all you really want to hear is this," before a louder engine noise was played.
BMW argued that the engine noise lasted for less than a second of the half-minute ad and was recorded when the vehicle was static. Thus, the ad was not suggesting that the car was being driven at speed or with sharp acceleration. As a radio ad, you also couldn't see any dangerous driving of an M3 or M5 or whichever vehicle was used for the recording.
The Advertising Standards Authority's rules state that motoring ads must not demonstrate power, acceleration, or handling characteristics except in a clear context of safety and that speed or acceleration claims must not be the main focus of the ad. In its ruling on the complaint, the ASA said that the ad did not make these features the main focus nor did it encourage dangerous or irresponsible driving.
Despite this, the ASA pulled the ad: "Because the ad demonstrated the power of the car, not in the clear context of safety, and in a way that suggested excitement, we concluded it was in breach of the code." BMW had no choice but to accept the decision and will no longer broadcast the ad.