A recent television commercial from car manufacturer Chevrolet, which was shot in Iceland, features off-road driving, trespassing in a fenced-off area and disrespectful behavior towards horses, all of which is considered in violation of Icelandic laws.
“It is very clear in the laws on nature protection that off-road driving is prohibited. The laws were violated in the making of the commercial. Such marketing in foreign media and on social websites, that it’s all right to come here and drive off roads, is unacceptable,” Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, managing director of nature protection NGO Landvernd, told Fréttatíminn, adding that the car manufacturer is irresponsible in releasing this ad.
Benedikt Eyjólfsson, owner of Bílabúð Benna, the agent for Chevrolet in Iceland, commented that the message of the commercial is not good and stressed that it was not made on his behalf. “We have eagerly fought against off-road driving for many years, for example in cooperation with the travel club 4x4.”
In the commercial, one of the protagonists, a tourist in Iceland, jumps on the back of a horse which is startled and starts running. Agricultural scientist Anna Berg Samúelsdóttir said such marketing can cause misunderstandings, making tourists think it’s all right to enter fenced-off pastures.
“Horses are usually very tame in Iceland but it can be dangerous for people to enter fenced-off areas where animals are grazing in addition to it being illegal and possibly frightening to the animals,” Anna stated. “Horses can get scared and start kicking in the air.”
Consultant at the Farmers’ Association of Iceland Ólafur Dýrmundsson agrees, calling such behavior silly and something that people unknown to the horses should never do as it is disrespectful towards the animals.
“According to law, it’s all right to pass through the lands of farmers but not at all to disturb grazing animals, be it cattle, horses or sheep,” Ólafur said, adding that strangers can cause the horses to feel afraid and stressed, which is in violation of animal protection laws.”