‘Black Cars Matter’ advert deemed ‘socially irresponsible’ by regulator

A Facebook advert by a car dealer was deemed to ‘cause serious offence on the grounds of race’ after parodying the Black Lives Matter movement.

The advert on Lingscars.com’s Facebook page for an Audi A4 Black Edition used a picture of the car with a black raised hand. It featured the text ‘Audi A4 Black Power Edition’ and ‘Manual Gearbox (Big Gearknob)’.

Further text read: “***BLACK***. In light of recent events, I’m resurrecting my Audi deal” as well as the sentence “Black Cars Matter. I asked Holly for a headline for this A4… and she said: ‘Once you go black, you never go back!’”

Black Cars Matters
Black Cars Matters

Three complaints received by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) referred to some of the text and the image of the raised fist as being insensitive and offensive.

In response, Lingscars.com said it believed the term ‘Black Cars Matter’ was inoffensive. They said ‘Black Power Edition’ was a pun on the car being called ‘Black Edition’ and said the phrase ‘once you go black you never go back’ was well-known and not offensive.

They also said the raised fist was not offensive and was seen as a positive symbol in other contexts, pointing to a recent Grand Prix where Lewis Hamilton raised a fist.

However, the ASA upheld the complaints, and said in a statement: “The ASA noted that the ad appeared shortly after the Black Lives Matter protests and during a public debate about racism in the UK.

“We considered that people would understand the headline “Black Cars Matter”, the image of the raised fist and the name “Audi A4 Black Power Edition” to be references to the Black Lives Matter and Black Power movements.

“By using that slogan and iconography simply to draw attention to an ad for a car had the effect of trivialising the serious issues raised by those movements.

“The claim, “Once you go black, you never go back!” in addition to the claim “Big gearknob”, we also considered was likely to be seen as objectifying and fetishising black men.

“Because those claims, particularly in the context of an ad for an unrelated product alongside references to recent protests opposing racism against black people, were likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race, we considered the ad was socially irresponsible. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.”