Toyota ‘Zero Emissions’ Ad Ruled ‘Misleading’

by | Jun 19, 2008

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priusad.jpgThe Belgian advertising standards authority says an advertisement for the Toyota Prius in the European Voice newspaper was misleading, EUBusiness reports.

Friends of the Earth Europe’s car efficiency campaigner, Jeroen Verhoeven, who filed a complaint against the Prius advertisement that included the words “Zero emissions low,” said it was an example of a ‘misinformation campaign’ by carmakers.

“Car manufacturers are using ‘greenwash’ advertising to confuse consumers whilst at the same time blocking EU proposals for a target of 120g CO2/km by 2012. If Toyota is serious about reaching ‘zero emissions’ anytime soon then why are they blocking a 2012 target?” he said.

The advertisement violated a European labeling directive because it did not contain any CO2 emission or fuel consumption data.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority released its Annual Report 2007  in May. The ASA said it dealt with record numbers of complaints about environmental claims as advertisers increasingly sought to promote their ‘green’ credentials. Complaints about environmental claims more than doubled year on year with 556 complaints about 408 ads.

Lexus’ headline claim in a magazine ad “High Performance. Low Emissions. Zero Guilt” was ruled misleading because the text in the ad which clarified the claim was not prominent enough and the claim “Zero Guilt” implied the car caused ittle or no harm to the environment.

Norway’s state-run advertising watchdog issued guidelines to advertisers that say, “We ask that … phrases such as ‘environmentally friendly’, ‘green’, ‘clean’, ‘environmental car’, ‘natural’ or similar descriptions not be used in marketing cars,.” Even mentioning the word carbon dioxide draws a red flag.

Diana Verde Nieto, founder and CEO of Clownfish, a communications and brand agency dedicated to making sustainability tangible for business, says it’s not difficult to deliver green claims in a way that is truthful, relevant and clear.

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