ASA clears Ford advert following zero-emissions claim

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has determined that an advertisement by Ford for its all-electric SUV, the Explorer, does not breach advertising standards despite featuring a “zero-emissions driving” claim.

ASA clears Ford advert following zero-emissions claim

ASA has previously banned advertisements from other automotive manufacturers.

The advertisement, which appeared as a paid Google advert in August 2023, touted the Explorer as an “all-electric SUV” and highlighted features such as fast charging and driver assistance technology alongside the contentious claim of ‘zero-emissions driving.’

Previously, ASA had banned advertisements from other automotive manufacturers, BMW and MG, for similar claims.

However, in this case, ASA found that the context surrounding the claim, particularly the mention of specific features of the car, led consumers to understand “zero-emissions” as referring specifically to driving emissions, rather than the vehicle’s entire life cycle.

Ford defended the claim, stating that by specifying “driving,” the brand made it clear that the claim referred only to emissions during operation, not the vehicle’s entire environmental impact.

It also pointed out that the advertisement provided additional context by mentioning other features like fast charging, further clarifying the claim’s scope.

ASA acknowledges that while electric vehicles (EVs) produce no emissions during operation, emissions may occur during other phases such as manufacturing and charging.

However, the UK’s advertising watchdog concluded that in the context of Ford’s advertisement, the claim was unlikely to mislead consumers.

Ford has indicated it will amend future advertisements to clarify the claim as “zero-emissions while driving,” aiming for even greater transparency in its messaging.

This ruling comes as part of ASA’s broader examination of ‘zero-emissions’ claims in advertising, reflecting increasing scrutiny on environmental claims in marketing materials.

Earlier this year, the UK Government’s zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate came into effect, compelling UK car and van manufacturers to progressively increase production and sales of electric vehicles (EVs) annually until 2030.

Similarly, the EU has outlined its 2035 ban, stipulating that new light vehicles “must have zero emissions.”

Looking ahead, automakers are likely to argue that their use of the term “zero emissions” in advertisements aligns with legislative terminology, which customers are accustomed to.

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