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Results of Complaint to Budget Direct Ad

Phill Hart | Published on 11/1/2023

Following our complaints about the current Budget Direct ad, we have received the formal decision from Ad Standards and the response from Budget Direct.

When Budget Direct received our complaint, they commissioned an independent third-party research provider to test a national representative sample of Australians who regularly (at least once a week) ride a bicycle, using qualitative responses alongside quantitative diagnostics to measure how an advertisement elicits emotions.

In brief, that research found that the ad does not depict content that would encourage or condone unhealthy or unsafe behaviour contrary to prevailing community standards.  Budget Direct’s response is that the research supports their position that the public understands the intended communication of the advert, rather than supporting our concerns.  They will continue to run the ad until 18 November and then they plan to transition to another part of their campaign.

The Ad Standards Community Panel reviewed the advertisement, our complaint and Budget Direct’s response.   They ‘did not uphold our complaint’.  They provided an extremely detailed and thorough explanation of their decision, identifying and analysing all our major concerns.  I am satisfied that they considered all the elements of our complaint.  The Executive Committee is reviewing the decision in detail.  It is difficult to summarise briefly the extensive response across all the issues identified, but in summary, the advertisement was considered to be ‘highly fantastical’ and ‘not a depiction, or a suggestion, of any realistic interactions between cyclists and drivers’.

We are of course disappointed with the outcome and disagree with their conclusions, but do not intend appealing against the decision.

In replying to Ad Standards and Budget Direct, I thanked them for the detailed and careful work that has gone into reviewing our concerns, testing and analysing community perceptions, and articulating their response.  We noted the rigour of the methodology, analysis and reporting of the results.

I took the opportunity to alert them to just a few of typical experiences that helped form the strong reaction that we have to their ad.  I shared with them some of the harrowing incidents that really stick in the mind, times when friends or other members have had drivers act dangerously or negligently towards them, resulting in injury, hospitalisation and long convalescence or indeed where the result was fatal for the rider.

I explained that like our members, I have had drivers roar past me blaring their horn, shouting at me. (One doesn’t usually hear clearly what they shout, but I doubt their mothers would approve.)  I myself have not had things thrown at me while cycling, but our members report that frequent missiles are cans of drink and – of all things – cheeseburgers.

These are just a handful of the experiences that make it extremely uncomfortable for us when we see bikes – even without people on them – get hit and fly through the air.

Thank you to everyone who complained to Budget Direct and Ad Standards and all those who contributed to our highly successful social media campaign, by ‘liking’, commenting on and forwarding our posts.  On this matter we have had significant engagement with people both within Bike North and beyond.  We are now reviewing what we have learnt from this campaign and how we will refine our process for future campaigns.

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