DVLA Investigating Ad on Fulham Palace Road
Complaints led to cancellation of Castrol campaign
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is "urgently investigating" how motor oil company Castrol obtained number plate data for a now-cancelled series of eye-catching adverts on five London streets, including Fulham Palace Road.
The experimental ads, which also appeared on Chiswick Roundabout, used cameras which snapped cars' number plates as they drove past. A computer then searched the DVLA's database to identify the numbers and a giant billboard further up the road flashed up the numbers with recommendations on the correct oils to be used in the cars.
The ad campaign, which reportedly cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to put together, was originally intended to run for two weeks, but was pulled just four days later after a number of complaints.
The AA and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said that the digital billboards were "inappropriate" and "distracting" for drivers.
Complaints were also made about the DVLA providing information about motorists to the campaign through a third party - a motor industry data provider. However, the DVLA has denied providing the information for advertising purposes and agreed the its use was "inappropriate".
According to industry analyst Kable, A DVLA spokesman said: " We have not provided any vehicle information to Castrol or received any fee from them in relation to their campaign.
" DVLA provides vehicle information under strict contractual terms to the motor industry to ensure vehicles are fitted with the correct parts, including brakes, tyres and oil. We make it absolutely clear that information must not be used for direct marketing purposes."
The spokesman added that the DVLA is urgently investigating what happened.
Castrol hoped that the advert would "excite and intrigue" drivers and hoped to extend it to other streets.
After cancelling it however, Castrol’s UK & Ireland marketing director Chris Sedwick said of the campaign: " We believed it was entirely in line with the service provided by our data supplier. As soon as we were alerted to the issue we took steps to cease the interactive trial. Castrol does not have direct access to DVLA data."