‘Don’t just take the corner, own it!’

It’s all over. And we’ve lost. In fact it seems as though we’ve all lost – lost our sanity and our moral compass.  The story begins in early June when I sat at the breakfast table and was confronted with a TV advert. The advert itself was fairly unremarkable and typical of many car adverts. It portrays a utopian world of undulating unfettered English countryside through which a Jaguar car passes. Of course we know that this does not represent a typical driving experience. The roads generally are no respecter of the agility or prestige of a car: we all share the same burden of congested traffic.

But then came the slogan:

‘Don’t just take the corner, own it’

What did Jaguar mean by this? Or perhaps what’s more important, what did they want prospective buyers to think? Of course we could assume that it is referring to the driving tenacity of a freewheeling driver escaping on the open road. But take that same slogan and think about it being used in a more typical driving environment in which we have to share the road with other road users. Let’s take another look at the slogan:

‘Don’t just take the corner, own it’

So it’s something to do with ownership. It seems that owning a prestige car entitles us not only to the car but to the road itself. Might is right. Doesn’t this seem to be a dangerous precedent? Other road users have to move aside in a game of chicken. Not just other cars. Other stakeholders far further down on the pecking order (cyclists and pedestrians) and yes, far more vulnerable. ‘Yeah… whatever, it’s just a slogan’. But isn’t it much more than just a slogan. Like any marketing, it has an insidious drip drip effect on what we consider to be normal.

Speak to the police constable who has to pick up the body parts. Talk to the paramedic who deals with the stove in chest. And listen to the mother of the unsuspecting victim in the oncoming vehicle.

We’ve also seen ownership creeping onto pavement corners. Cars that really do take the corner and stay there. In fact, they often occupy drop-kerbs preventing people like myself (a wheelchair user) from making it to the shops or meeting friends for coffee. In effect, becoming stranded and house-bound. Of course the designers of such an advert would claim that no such message was intended. After all, it was about the open road. But we know that advertising acts subliminally. We can take the message and apply it to our more typical driving and parking situations.

I joined a merry band of six complainants – that’s right – just six of us. Thankfully the Advertising Standards Authority assess complaints based on merit rather than crowd pressure. It seems that our collective argument held water. What followed were months of background work by the ASA in preparation for a final decision by the ASA Council. Jaguar Land Rover were of course given the chance to respond. We were also encouraged to provide any further evidence to support our case. I felt like a blinkered racehorse in the starting stalls. Evidence? What evidence could I give? Surely this was a moral objection to the slogan that does not need evidence:

‘Don’t just take the corner, own it’

Yes, of course I could have produced endless statistics to show the number of deaths from overtaking on corners. Without doubt, the opposing legal team would have shown how UK road fatalities were lower than many countries. (Clearly in spite of their attempts to foster the bad boy road user). I could also have told personal stories about people that I have known who chose to take the corner but instead took their own life. But surely evidence just provides an opportunity for lawyers to spin their complex webs. Isn’t it enough just to look at the slogan and ask ourselves what we have come to?

‘Don’t just take the corner, own it’

In the end we failed. Our complaints were not upheld. I couldn’t bring myself to read the Council’s findings. If any convoluted argument convinces me some day that this slogan is somehow okay – then please commit me to the local asylum.

If you share this posting to just ONE person you will help to ensure that this story does not get buried! Thank you.

 

RE: Your complaint about Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. Ref: A17-389755

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