Toyota has had its knuckles rapped by the advertising watchdog after an online advertisement showed an animated man driving in a reckless fashion.
The advert was promoting the Toyota GT86 through YouTube and was set in an animated virtual world in which a male character described not being real and how he had no feeling, until he drove the GT86.
The car was shown being driven at speed, being followed by a police helicopter and being chased through narrow virtual streets. The car then escaped the city and following signs to "the end of the world", before bursting through a glass barrier onto a real road. A similar advert has also run on television.
Two viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Agency, saying it was irresponsible and condoned dangerous driving.
in its defence, Toyota claimed the ad was clearly set in an animated, artificial and fantasy environment, and that the cityscape was futuristic, cars were capable of driving themselves, real objects were considered as contraband, feeling real emotion was outlawed and that the improbable was routine, as demonstrated by bollards suddenly appearing through the road.
It also stated that the ad did not show normal driving circumstances on public roads and that the driving scenes were impossible to emulate, and denied there being any reference to the police in the ad, arguing the pursuit scenes had been used to demonstrate the handling and connectedness that the driver felt when driving the car, not to show speed.
However, the ASA disagreed, saying it encouraged motorists to drive in an irresponsible way.
"While we appreciated that in the world where the ad was set, cars could drive themselves, objects could miraculously appear or disappear and certain everyday objects were contraband, we considered that the roads, public spaces and the car featured were recognisable and were not significantly different from those in the real world," the ASA wrote.
"We also considered that the highly stylised nature of the ad glamorised the reckless manner in which the car was driven. Because we considered the ad portrayed speed, and the way the car could be handled in a manner that might encourage motorists to drive irresponsibly, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and condoned dangerous driving."
The ad was banned from being shown in its current form.
The decision capped off a bad week for Toyota; on 14 November the Japanese car manufacturer had to recall 2.8m cars to fix faulty steering columns and water pumps, just a month after raising the alarm over more than seven million vehicles with faulty window switches.
Nine models were affected globally, including the Avensis, Corolla and Prius. About 75,000 cars will be recalled in the UK, 496,000 across Europe, 670,000 in the United States and 1.5m in Japan.
Toyota said it had not received any reports of crashes or injuries resulting from the faults, and that the steering problem was caused by "insufficient hardness" of the steering shaft, which could be damaged if the wheel is turned forcefully at slow speed, affecting control of the car in extreme cases.