Standard Bank ordered to remove Spotify radio ad for being dangerous to drivers

The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has instructed Standard Bank to withdraw a Spotify advert containing a GPS-like instruction as it has deemed it distracting and a risk to motorists.

This follows a complaint submitted by Dirk Hanekom, which the advertising regulator upheld.

The Standard Bank Achieva advertisement begins with a voice saying, “In 600 metres, turn right“, much like an instruction one might hear from a navigation app or GPS device.

A woman then says, “I can’t believe it. I am driving my first car” before the navigation voice says: “You have arrived at your destination“.

According to Hanekom, the electronic-sounding voice lines sound precisely like his GPS.

“It is the same as the ads on radio that contain sounds with sirens and horns. It is distracting and dangerous, hence why I cannot listen to the radio in my car,” he said.

“But now these geniuses have upped their game and added sound effects that sound like GPS navigation instructions.”

Given the opportunity to respond, attorney Bouwers Inc. provided a submission on behalf of Standard Bank.

The firm said the commercial is intended to depict a person driving their first car and isn’t meant to be, nor is it, distracting or dangerous.

“The Complainant was not in any manner confused and well-aware that he was listening to an advertisement and that the sounds that he was hearing were emanating from his radio and was not real-life traffic noise, nor did it emanate from his ‘GPS’,” it said in its submission.

“There can be no doubt that in the context of the Advertisement the use of the phrase ‘In 600 metres, turn right’ will not create a ‘safety hazard’, especially, taking into consideration that no driver of a vehicle will blindly follow the ‘GPS instructions’.”

However, the regulator disagreed. The ARB weighed the complaint and response in terms of Clause 3.6 of Section II of the Code of Advertising Practice, which states:

*Advertisements must not include sounds that are likely to create a safety hazard, for example, to those listening to the radio while driving.

The regulator noted the unlikeliness of a driver unquestioningly following the advert’s “GPS instructions”.

“The Directorate accepts that it is highly unlikely that a driver would, for example, drive into a wall or oncoming traffic as the result of the commercial,” it said.

“However, the Directorate is not convinced that this is sufficient.”

The ARB said the advert’s playing of the GPS-like voice line at the start is problematic, as it is before the driver has time to orientate themselves to the fact that it is a commercial.

“The Directorate also notes that the way that GPS systems work, when connected to the car’s audio, is by interrupting whatever else is playing to give an instruction,” it said.

“It would therefore not be unheard of to have your song interrupted by the GPS system saying ‘in 600m turn right‘.”

Therefore, the ARB upheld Hanekom’s complaint and found Standard Bank’s advertisement to be in contravention of the Code of Advertising Practice.

As deadlines permit, the regulator has instructed Standard Bank to immediately remove the commercial containing GPS-like voice lines.

Standard Bank told MyBroadband that it is aware of the ARB’s ruling and will adhere to its instruction.

“In as much as we strive for safe and secure banking, we understand the nature of the complaint and have chosen not to challenge the finding on the basis that the advert may prove to be distracting for some listeners who may be driving at the time,” it said.

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Standard Bank ordered to remove Spotify radio ad for being dangerous to drivers