Navigating the rules for motor vehicle ads

Car ads can be cool – shiny cars, great music – but did you know that there are rules in place to make sure these ads are responsible? In Australia, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Code is the rulebook for motor vehicle ads.

What is the FCAI Code?

The FCAI Code was developed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI). They are the peak representative organisation for companies which distribute new cars, light commercial vehicles, motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles in Australia.

The code was developed in accordance with Commonwealth, state, and territory road laws to ensure that all motor vehicle ads are responsible and align with community standards.

Ad Standards administers the FCAI Code and handles all complaints about motor vehicle ads.

What ads does the FCAI Code apply to?

While vehicles may appear in ads for a range of products, the FCAI Code only applies to ads for cars, light commercial vehicles, motorbikes and ATVs.

Complaints about motor vehicles in ads for other products are considered by the under Section 2.6 (Health and Safety) of the AANA Code of Ethics.

What does the Code cover?

The code covers: 

  • Unsafe driving 
  • Environmental harm by motor vehicles 
  • Motorsport scenes   
  • Depicting behaviour that would breach the law.  

Are high performance vehicles allowed to be shown in motor vehicle ads?

Yes. The Code allows advertisers to depict motor sport scenes or simulations, and vehicle testing, as long as it’s clearly shown within a closed-circuit environment. Any motor vehicles shown to be racing or competing should be in clearly identifiable racing livery. 

Are advertisers allowed to demonstrate the off-road capabilities of motor vehicles?

As long as an ad doesn’t portray unsafe driving on loose or unsealed terrain, the FCAI Code does allow advertisers to show an off-road vehicle’s capabilities in Australia.

Examples of ads that have breached the FCAI Code

  • A KIA Automotive ad that showed a car travelling at speeds too fast for the roads being driven on
  • A Volkswagen ad that showed a car leaving the road to overtake another vehicle
  • A Fiat Chrysler ad that showed a car appearing to lose control as a result of the speed it is travelling.
  • A Volvo ad that showed a person falling asleep while driving.
  • A Ram Trucks ad that showed a vehicle driving over sand dunes in a manner which would be highly likely to cause environmental damage.

For more examples and guidance visit our motor vehicle advertising page.

We also offer an advice service that provides expert guidance to help make sure your ad stays on the right track.  

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