The United Kingdom’s advertising watchdog has slapped a ban on Japanese automaker Toyota for its Hilux ‘Born to Roam’ advertising campaign, citing that the ads were socially irresponsible towards the environment.
Complaints were brought to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by Adfree Cities, a network of groups that aim to challenge corporate outdoor advertising in an effort to reclaim public space for art, community, and nature.
A paid-for Facebook post and a poster ad were cited in the complaint as condoning “behaviour that was harmful to the environment” and “challenged whether they were irresponsible.”
The advertising campaign depicts a “herd” of Toyota Hilux in a spoof of a wildlife documentary, with Hilux utes stampeding across various geographic terrains in a “great migration” that is billed by the narrator as “one of nature’s true spectacles”.
The video had been shot in Slovenia on private land, with permission, and Toyota claimed that “the footage of the vehicles off-road was minimal and when they appeared they were never in an environment which was ecologically sensitive or a habitat with wildlife.”
Despite Toyota’s lengthy defence of the ad, the ASA ended up upholding the complaint, stating that “marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.”
“The ads presented and condoned the use of vehicles in a manner that disregarded their impact on nature and the environment,” said in its findings.
“As a result, they had not been prepared with a sense of responsibility to society,” adding that Toyota was to “ensure their future marketing communications contained nothing that was likely to encourage irresponsible behaviour towards the environment.”
Toyota has been slammed by environmental and EV makers for its opposition to policies that would support the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars, and it has also said EVs are not suitable for Australia, where the company is yet to introduce a single fully electric model.
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.