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Budget Direct’s ad is divisive, dangerous and offensive

Phill Hart | Published on 10/21/2023

Have you seen the latest ad for Budget Direct, currently on TV and on their website?  I find it divisive, dangerous and offensive.

We have made a formal complaint to Budget Direct and also to Ad Standards.  We encourage you to do “Make a Complaint” here: (Scroll down to “Make a Complaint”)

The ad is intended to be humorous, and the rogue bicycles are not intended to represent actual human cyclists.  However, I have told Budget Direct that I believe that this ad is dangerous.  It encourages an underlying antipathy from motorists towards cyclists and shows dehumanised cyclists being knocked over by a reckless motorist.

When we are out riding, we often feel the ire of motorists who are rude, abusive, or downright dangerous towards us.  The ad provides cover for such behaviour by showing viewers an example of a motorist:

•              Carelessly knocking over an orderly, neat row of legal hire bicycles and driving off unperturbed

•              Driving dangerously along roads without regard for other road users – including cyclists

•              Recklessly knocking through bicycles; the sight of the bikes tipping and smashing was viscerally upsetting to me – for cyclists, that is our worst nightmare

•              Driving fast without heeding the yellow cycling road user sign in his haste to ‘escape’.

Right from the start the joke involves casual violence against bicycles.

The ad dehumanises cyclists.  It likens bicycles to a pack of malevolent wild dogs.  Cyclists are legitimate road users, yet Budget Direct casts them as villainous and the driver as the victim. 

While the ad is surely intended to be taken in jest, we also know that there are some people who follow the lead of dangerous and irresponsible behaviour that they observe.

It is dangerous as it encourages aggression by motorists toward cyclists. It is also offensive.

On behalf of Bike North, a few weeks ago, I asked Budget Direct please to remove this advertisement. 

Here again is where you can complain to Budget Direct:

We are still awaiting a substantive response from Budget Direct and the decision of the Ad Standards Community Panel.  I will let you know what responses we get.

You can follow our campaign on our Facebook and Instagram channels, too. 
Please support that campaign by ‘liking’ the relevant posts and leaving comments on Budget Direct’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Phill Hart, President

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