How to make internationally banned car commercials

A collection of racy car ads that were pulled from the European air. Prudes or prudent? You decide!
How to make a banned car commercial
How to make a banned car commercial © Lukasz Laska/Getty Images
By Romelle Young

1. Female eye candy
The Mad Men of motors learned early on that the female form and fast cars were a winning advertising combination. Ever since, the battle has been on to see how far auto manufacturers could go when fleshing out their commercials. The latest car campaign to fall foul of the censors is a spot for the Renault Clio that injected some added Va Va Voom with a roadside display from the Moulin Rouge. This is the latest in a long line of car commercials deemed too ‘sexually provocative’ for public consumption. At least we can congratulate Renault for showing some gender equality by producing an alternate version focused squarely at the female motorist.

2. Taking it to the bedroom
Since starting their Va Va Voom campaign Renault has been consistently pushing the envelope of what is (and what is not) acceptable in a car advertisement. A commercial for the Twingo was personally taken off the air in Italy by then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi due to all-female bedroom scene. Berlusconi has since become the victim of an extremely distasteful car advert that was scrapped before it even had the chance to be banned.

3. The car is not the star
If you’re cooking up a campaign to sell a car you may think that it’s worth showing the vehicle at some point during your commercial. Just saying. That’s not what Dodge were thinking when they came up with their Ram Rash campaign. There’s also this example of taking the car out of the equation completely from a Romanian insurance company.

The same tired imagery used to sell cars
The same tired imagery used to sell cars © Jyliana/Getty Images

4. Make it too fictional
Toyota failed to get the censors to play the game when they created a virtual world for the GT86, the European version of the Scion FR-S. The scene of speeding through a glass wall was deemed all too real and the commercial was denied on the grounds it condoned dangerous driving. Again, Toyota took things too far when they paid a nod to the movies with their RAV4 riff on Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

5. Don’t mess with babies
Hyundai’s effort to get the kids involved in promoting their Santa Fe 4WD in Australia ended in tears. The country’s Advertising Standards Board decided to ban the commercial despite their neighbors New Zealand voting it their favorite TV commercial. It just goes to show that you might be able to please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

6. Going all the way
Once again we find ourselves checking Hyundai’s back catalogue of commercials to discover the Korean manufacturer has pushed the limits on several occasions. So much, it went all the way to the grave. Among their video nasties is footage of the Grim Reaper and a suicide attempt. While Volkswagen has come up with some fantastic commercials over the years, this one featuring a terrorist bomb attack gone wrong is one that wasn't a hit with the censors. We think it was the bomb.

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