The regulatory agency for ads in the UK announced Wednesday that it’s banning a new Ford Mustang ad for encouraging “unsafe driving,” but it wasn’t a Cars and Coffee video compilation. No, it was an ad to the tune of the famous poem “Do not go gentle into that good night,” which talks about rage a lot.
(Update: A spokesperson from Ford of Europe said the Mustang never exceeded 15 mph during the ad. More below.)
The agency, the Advertising Standards Authority, announced the same day that it also banned new ads from Nissan and Fiat. The Nissan ad “encourage[d] dangerous driving” by showing a Micra “driving at excessive speeds,” the agency said, and it also ruled that the Fiat ad focused too much on speed. The agency told Fiat Chrysler not to “portray driving behaviour, including racing, that condone[s] or encourage[s] motorists to drive irresponsibly” in the future.
But the Ford ban is the most interesting. Ford used parts of the poem “Do not go gentle into that good night,” written by Dylan Thomas in 1947, as a voiceover in the Mustang ad. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” it says, before showing a Mustang accelerate out of a parking garage after a long day of monotony at work.
The poem was written to convey raging against death instead of giving into it, according to the BBC, but the Ford ad is (was?) more about getting mad that your life is routine and lame and that you use public transportation, which is also routine and lame except for when it breaks or gets delayed. And, of course, material items like the Mustang can fix that lame routine because Ford needs to sell the Mustang to make money.
The Drive found a copy of the ad on YouTube:
After a solid 12 complaints about it, the agency found the Ford ad compelling enough to encourage people “to drive in an aggressive manner” by “releasing their anger whilst driving a Mustang.” Because of that, it told Ford not to show the ads again in their current form and that future ads “must not encourage unsafe driving, including by depicting driving as a way of relieving anger.”
Harsh, but sure. The agency painstakingly listed out every part of the ad that showed anger and the need to release that anger, and how that’s bad for people on the road—as if people actually take life and driving advice from ads. (If you do, please, don’t. You’ll end up broke and empty inside.)
From the announcement of the ban:
The ASA noted that the ads featured a scene showing a man going into a lift with a discontent expression whilst other office workers proceeded to go into the lift before him. The man then showed anxiety when the lift did not stop on the floor he had pressed the button for. In other scenes, a woman on a train had her foot stepped on and a man spilt coffee on his papers, to which they both displayed a look of shock and distress. In further scenes a woman was shown at her desk smiling when a colleague entered the room, but as soon as her in-tray was filled with more work, we noted that her facial expression changed to looking displeased. The ads then showed a scene showing a distressed man having difficulty operating a photocopier who was hastily tapping a button for it to work, and then used hand gestures to show his frustration with the matter.
The ads included further scenes of a young man sitting in a meeting room whilst an older man was standing and shouting at him and in one scene, the older man banged his hands on the desk to further show his frustration towards the younger man. Throughout those scenes the younger man’s facial expression showed his anger towards the older man with his stern eyes and lip movement, along with his hands tightly gripped on his pencil to represent the building tension between him and the older man. Furthermore, the younger man swallowed deeply at one point and then tightened his jaw and snapped his pencil.
We considered all those scenes depicted people in distressful circumstances, which led them to feel anger over their particular ordeal.
This is the point at which any normal person says, “Alright, fine, you win” so that they don’t actually have to read all of the minute details that were just sent to them in an argument that they didn’t care much about in the first place.
Oh, well. The ad was fun while it lasted. This “rage, rage” tempo should fit well into your next Cars and Coffee Mustang joke, at least.
We reached out to Ford for comment, and will update if we hear back.
Update, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 at 12:07 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Ford of Europe told Jalopnik via email that Ford’s intent is “never to encourage unsafe driving” and that care was taken during filming to show the car driving safely. The car never exceeded 15 mph during the ad, the spokesperson said.
“We said the ad reflected a typical working day and the frustrations of office life and commute, with the second part of the ad symbolizing the end of the working day and the sense of freedom at leaving the daily grind behind,” the spokesperson said.