A Volkswagen advert with fight scenes inspired by the Bourne and Matrix movies has received a pre-9pm TV ban after more than 1,000 complaints to the advertising watchdog made it the fifth most complained-about UK commercial ever.
The Advertising Standards Authority received a total of 1,066 complaints about the VW campaign, consisting of four TV ads and a cinema ad, featuring a Volkswagen designer fighting a series of running battles against sinister clones of himself.
Complaints to the ASA ranged from the violence in the series of ads, which were all versions of an original, single 100-second commercial, to whether they were unsuitable to be seen when children might be watching and could lead to copycat behaviour.
VW said the struggle in the ads was metaphorical rather than real and that the exaggerated, cartoon-like sound effects and actions were designed to dispel the gravity of the fighting.
However, the ASA ruled against two versions of the TV ad that showed particularly graphic images, including fight scenes using car parts.
The regulator said that the 100-second cut included an opening punch [that was] shocking and set up a series of violent set pieces that included the use of weapons.
In its ruling, published today, the advertising watchdog concluded that the VW commercial needed a further restriction to not be shown before the 9pm watershed.
The ASA cleared all the VW ads of complaints that they specifically targeted children and could lead to copycat behaviour. The cinema ad was also cleared.