BMW and MG ads outlawed in ASA ‘greenwashing’ blitz

BMWCar giants BMW and MG Motors have both been forced to pull online ads over misleading environmental claims, as the Advertising Standards Authority continues its crackdown on so-called greenwashing.

The BMW ad, appeared on Google, and stated, “Zero Emissions Cars – Download Your Brochure Today. Visit BMW’s official online website. Find the perfect BMW electric car. Book a test drive. Explore a range of BMW electric cars…”

However, despite no complaints from the public, the ASA challenged whether the claim ‘zero emissions cars’ accurately represented the environmental impact of the vehicles.

In response, BMW UK claimed it targeted consumers interested in electric vehicles by bidding on terms like “Zero Emission Cars” on Google Ads, explaining that the term was automatically inserted and that it was not initially aware of it until the complaint was received.

It said the claim appeared in only 0.02% of the impressions delivered by BMW’s paid search activity but acknowledged that claims about zero emissions only apply while driving.

The car marque has since ceased bidding on those keywords and has introduced manual oversight for future campaigns.

Meanwhile, MG Motor’s Google ad showcased the offer, “Find A Dealer – Book A Test Drive. Save £1,000 On Your Next MG HS Plug-in Hybrid, MG ZS or MG5 EV Trophy Long Range, Renewed with a modern design, increased range, and even more technology. Zero Emissions.”

Once again, acting on its own intelligence, the ASA launched an investigation insisting that the claim “zero emissions” did not accurately represent the environmental impact of all the variants listed in the ad.

The regulator said: “In relation to ads for plug-in hybrids, it should be clear it applied to driving only and when using the battery for power. It should never be made in relation to vehicles that were powered by petrol or diesel engines.”

The ASA also pointed out that while fully electric vehicles produce no emissions when driven, emissions are generated during manufacturing and charging.

While both ads have since been removed, the watchdog reiterated its warning about environmental claims in car advertising.

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