Our attention has been drawn to an advertisement for the Datsun 1600 which appeared on the inside back cover of the Christmas Eve edition of Punch. This full-page colour advertisement shows a young lady admiring one of these Japanese saloons and the heading to the layout, in large letters, asks: “How come that lady’s driving the winner of the Safari Rally?”
They answer their own question by saying that Nissan isn’t primarily interested in winning rallies but is interested in making sure they’ve made a better car—by learning lessons from competing in such events. We have no grumble with that. Participation in competitions costs money and apart from valuable technical knowledge gained thereby, it is sensible that the publicity achieved from winning races and rallies should be made proper use of. But this Datsun advertisement is misleading, because although Nissan say they are not particularly interested in winning rallies, they omit to say that they did not win the 1969 East African Safari, or even finish in the first three.
This tough rally was won by Ford, a make Datsun have been pleased to “knock” in other advertisements. Only in the body of the Punch advertisement is it explained, in letters perhaps a quarter the size of the heading and nothing like so bold, that what Datsun did do in the Safari was to come home t, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in their class. We would have thought this a good enough performance, especially remembering that Datsun took the Team Prize in the more recent RAC Rally, although in this case not coming higher than eighth in general classification.
But clearly the writer of the advertisement in question wants to convey the false impression that Datsun won outright one of the World’s toughest rallies, whereas in fact it was beaten to this honour by a Ford and a Volvo.
In the distant past it was Rootes who adopted a similar form of deception and we came down heavily on them. That was before the Trade Descriptions Act, under which Nissan-Datsun may or may not be considered to have offended. The fact is, if such advertising spreads it will undermine the status of rallying and will deprive rightful outright winners of the publicity impact which is due to them. The correspondent who drew our attention to this imaginative copy writing remarks that as far as he is concerned it has soured all Datsun’s genuine achievements.
So, honourable Datsun Copy-writer, please desist.