Complaints against Toyota's "battle of the sexes" television advertising campaign for its new Rav 4 have been upheld by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.
The Saatchi & Saatchi advertisement shows a couple booby-trapping each other's early morning preparations as they try to be the first to reach their Rav 4 and drive it to work.
In a finding released yesterday, the board found the advertisement breached three principles in its code of ethics: that advertisements should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, should not contain anything likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and should not contain dangerous practices which encourage a disregard for safety.
The board said the 17 complaints received indicated widespread concern.
Complainants said the advertisement sent an inappropriate message to children about unsafe behavioural practices, that it would be disturbing to some children to see a "mother" and "father" trying to hurt each other, that it would be likely to encourage emulation by some people, and that it was not socially responsible to show domestic violence as a means to winning use of an inanimate object.
The board said the advertisement's "obvious hyperbole and humour" did not prevent it from effecting a breach of the code of ethics rule regarding safety.
National's spokesman for political correctness eradication, Wayne Mapp, said the decision pandered to the "discontented killjoy minority" who could not distinguish between reality and a fictional world.
"It's a killjoy attitude that's so typical of the politically correct. Don't they realise it's a spoof?"