BMW's latest advertisement for the its ActiveE electric concept vehicle appears to have crossed the fine line between acceptable and misleading. Why? The ad states, "The BMW Concept ActiveE is the first BMW to be powered purely by electricity." The tagline of the ad reads "100% joy, 0% emissions." As soon the ad made its way to print, an astute reader pointed out some problems and filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of the UK.
According to Marketing magazine, the complaint focused on BMW's use of the unsubstantiated claim of "zero CO2 when driving." As the offended reader notes, BMW's claim can not be substantiated because charging the vehicle, which allows it to be driven, would undoubtedbly produce a significant amount of emissions. While BMW argues that the words "when driving" limit the zero-emissions claim solely to the act of driving, the ASA ruled to ban the ad instead. An ASA spokesman issued this statement:
With the ad pulled, the ASA warned BMW to avoid repeating any claims implying that electric vehicles generate zero-emissions while in use. Other manufacturers, take notice.We considered that [BMW's] inclusion of the phrase 'when driving' was contradictory to the overall zero emission claim, and the impression that the car's use would not result in the production of emissions.