Watch: New Toyota GR Yaris ad almost gets banned

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Words: Matthew Hansen
4 Mar 2021

The idea of seeing advertising on television for the new Toyota GR Yaris is foreign for us Kiwis. The pint-sized hot hatch has steered clear of local silver screens so far — perhaps because the number of them coming to New Zealand is so limited.

However, this is far from the case in Australia. There, the GR Yaris is much more plentiful, with over 1000 already sold and more seemingly on the way if the Australian arm’s marketing spend is anything to go by.

It’s been a somewhat rocky road for the GR Yaris’ Australian television campaigns. The first one, which featured a very brief shot of a GR Yaris sliding on dirt, copped a very quick ban due to its depiction of ‘unsafe driving’. Now, a second ad featuring a GR Yaris breaking traction on gravel has made it to the small screen (watch it below). And the complainants have been out in force.

Following a complaint that included the phrase “this type of driving doesn’t make legends it makes dead people” Australia’s advertising standards authority investigated the advert, only — surprisingly — to find it not guilty and allow it to play on.

Despite featuring much more slip and slide driving than the previously banned commercial, Toyota Australia’s new 30-second spot has done its homework. It features Harry Bates, son of Neal Bates and a rallying dynamo in his own right, having a gravel lash of the GR. The difference is that he’s sporting full motorsport kit (namely a helmet and overalls), allowing Toyota Australia to say that he’s “engaging in motorsport activities” in its defence. Clever.

“The Advertisement shows regular Toyota vehicles being driven safely and in compliance with all applicable road rules and regulations,” Toyota said in a statement responding to the complaint.

“Toyota confirms that the vehicles were being driven within the legal speed limit and were closely monitored at all times during filming. It is clear that the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver is engaging in motorsport activities.

“Accordingly, he takes the necessary safety precautions such as wearing a helmet and seatbelt, and at all times is in full control of the motor vehicle.”

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