Page last updated at 23:02 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 00:02 UK

VW car ad 'shocking' to children

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The advert included a number of fight scenes, some with weapons

A Volkswagen advert showing an engineer fighting with replicas of himself was shocking, offensive and unsuitable for children, a watchdog has ruled.

The TV ad attracted a total of 1,066 complaints, making it the fifth most complained-about advert ever.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the advert for the VW Golf should not be shown again before 9pm.

Volkswagen argued the "highly stylised and choreographed" adverts were not intended to cause offence in any way.

The ASA said: "The opening punch to the chief engineer was shocking and set up a series of violent set pieces that included the use of weapons."

The decision comes as the ASA said a government advert aimed at scaring parents into giving up smoking upset children and broke several rules.

Car parts

In the VW advert, the engineer opens the door of his office and is punched in the face and kicked by a character identical to himself.

A series of fight scenes follows, some involving the use of car parts as weapons.

The engineer ends up fighting several versions of himself, with a voice-over saying: "Sometimes the only one you have to beat is yourself... The new Golf."

The ASA said the 100-second advert could cause "serious offence and distress", and ruled that both that and an edited 40-second version should not be screened in the early evening.

Both versions of the advert were originally given a post-7.30pm restriction, and the longer version was shown after 11pm on each of the three occasions on which it was broadcast in December last year.

Volkswagen said the fighting was metaphorical rather than real, that cartoon-like sound effects and actions were used, and no physical harm or suffering was depicted.

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