Car manufacturer Nissan has been told by Ireland’s advertising watchdog to stop running a cinema advertisement showing a girl standing up to her brother’s bully.
Five complaints were received by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland about the advertisement for the Nissan Micra.
The ASAI said the advertisement should not appear in its current form again because the message was that violence could be used to resolve the issue and that it is an appropriate response to bullying.
The watchdog did not consider that the advertiser was engaging in gender stereotyping as the girl was being equated to the new Nissan Micra at the end of the advertisement.
It noted that the female character became the new model of the car in the advertisement and was portrayed as stronger while the brother became the older version and the bully became a damaged unknown car.
The advertisement shows a boy who has been bullied when carrying groceries for his elderly neighbour. He becomes more withdrawn as time goes on, while his sister starts to learn how to kickbox.
The girl is shown as a teenager practising her kickboxing, and the boy is shown washing blood from his arm and cheek, implying that he is still being bullied. A further scene shows the teenage boy walking home with groceries and the bully asking him what is in the bag. The boy’s sister approaches; she is wearing her training gear, and the bully looks afraid.
As the advertisement is played out the brother and sister turn around in the driveway of their home — he becomes an old Nissan Micra while his sister is represented as the new Nissan Micra.
The bully is represented by a damaged red car that is being removed by a truck. The car appears dented, and the bumper falls off as the truck drives away.
Some complainants objected to the portrayal of the bullying and that it implied that the only way to deal with it was through more violence.
Responding, Nissan said it believed that its portrayal of bullying was carried out responsibly and that one issue around bullying is that it is often hidden away and not discussed.
It said the bullying scenes were “clearly” presented in a negative light and were at odds with the values of society, but it was incorrect to state that the girl had attacked the bully as that was not depicted.
At the time of Nissan’s response, the advertisement was no longer live but was available on the Nissan Ireland YouTube Channel.
The Nissan advertisement was one of 17 of the 20 advertisements found to have been in breach of the ASAI code in its latest complaints bulletin.
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