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Renault advert banned for treating women ‘like sexual objects’

It seems Renault injected a bit too much ‘Va Va Voom’ into its latest Clio marketing campaign. The French car manufacturer has been asked to take an advert down because of its portrayal of the fairer sex.

The advert originally, uploaded on Renault UK’s official YouTube channel, was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority because it was deemed “sexually provocative” and that it “objectified the dancers by portraying them as sexual objects”.

After receiving one complaint amid a total of 3.5 million views on YouTube, the ASA ruled that the advert is, “likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

Renault’s creation revolves around a potential buyer going on a test drive. The salesman in the vehicle asks the driver to press the ‘Va Va Voom’ button on the infotainment display, which sparks a random attractive couple to start kissing, a Parisian background to appear, French accordion music to start playing and a random chap in a leather jacket passing a baguette through the driver’s window.

Nothing sexist so far, then, (mild xenophobic stereotyping is fine, apparently) except Renault decided it would be a good idea (it was) to roll out a collection of Moulin Rouge-esque cabaret babes women who proceed to dance around the car while the driver laughs awkwardly.

With the show over and the background taken away to reveal a Renault billboard, the unsuspecting test driver who looks like he just won the lottery is asked to head back to the garage, to which he replies, “I don’t know if I can drive now”. Presumably because all the blood’s rushed from his head to another part of his body.

“The ASA noted that Renault felt the female dancers were just one of the iconic Parisian scenes featured in the ad, which was intended to be a light-hearted parody,” an ASA statement read. “However, we were concerned that the ad featured a number of shots of the women’s breasts and bottoms, in which their heads were obscured, and which we considered invited viewers to view the women as sexual objects.”

Renault has since released a new version of the advert. While the new version does show you the scantily clad babes momentarily, it replaces the dancing with a screen that pokes fun at the whole affair. “Warning. Va Va Voom Overload! Our drivers experienced a Va Va Voom test drive. Unfortunately we’re not allowed to show you this part of it. We can only suggest you take a test drive for yourself.”

This is not the first time Renault has got into trouble over its adverts. In 2003 a campaign for the Megane was banned from being shown before 7:30pm because it featured close-ups of male and female derrière to Groove Armada’s I See You Baby (Shaking That Ass).

Interestingly, another version of the advert that sees a women driver going for a test drive is still deemed appropriate, even though you could argue bare-chested men flexing their muscles in public could also be deemed sexist and/or sexually exploitative.

Whatever your thoughts, the adverts are worth a gander, if only for the test driver’s reactions.

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