Gautrain has been banned from claiming it can give Johannesburg to Pretoria commuters back 11 days of their lives every year to bake cakes or learn to ride motorcycles
- The Advertising Regulatory Board has instructed the Gautrain to yank advertising extolling the amount of time it can save commuters between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
- The regulator says the Gautrain's calculations are dodgy – and its logic doesn't stand up to scrutiny either.
- The Gautrain ads said road users who switched to the train would have time do things such as learning to bake cakes or ride motorcycles.
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The Gautrain may no longer run adverts that claim road-using commuters between Pretoria and Johannesburg can win back 11 days a year by switching to its train service.
The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) on Friday published a ruling that found the advertising campaign to be misleading – both in the numbers it uses and its logic.
In radio spots the Gautrain invited listeners to imagine what it would be like to lose 11 days of their lives every year.
"That’s eleven days less that you get to spend with your family, your loved ones, your dog," a voiceover said.
"Think about it. Eleven days. It’s what we waste while stuck in rush hour Joburg and Pretoria traffic. Get more time for your life with Gautrain."
In an accompanying Twitter campaign the Gautrain invited road users to switch to its service, and so find the time to learn to bake cakes or ride motorcycles.
But the ARB agreed with a complainant that the train service was pushing the truth.
The "11 days" claim is based on the INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, but the ARB said those numbers reflected the time lost by commuters within Johannesburg and Pretoria every year – not those driving between the two cities.
The regulator believes the Gautrain took the numbers for each city, added them together, and used that as the basis for a claim about time wasted when driving between Johannesburg and Pretoria.
There are two other problems of logic with the ads, the ARB says. One, commuters still have to travel to and from train stations, and spend time on trains. Two, Gautrain users "will not be able to magically combine this saving into some sort of extra days that can be used for some new activity".
Instead, the regulator said, using the Gautrain rather than commuting by car may save users 15 minutes a day.
"While this may be a benefit, it is far from the impression created by the commercial."
Compiled by Phillip de Wet.
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