Radio advertising for Ford Ireland featuring a male voiceover and accompanied intermittently by the sound of birds chirping referred to the following:
“Henry Ford once famously said, you can have any colour you want, as long as it’s black”.
Today, when you need a new commercial vehicle from Ford, whatever colour you choose, you’ll always be buying … green!
With our smarter, innovative commercial engine technologies, you can upgrade to a new Ford, while driving all of our commitment towards a cleaner environment.
So, clean-up for 181 with an incredible bonus of up to €4,000 on the Ford Transit Range
and discover how a modern commercial vehicle from Ford doesn’t cost the Earth.
Ford. Go Further.
Terms and Conditions apply see Ford.ie for details.”
Two complaints were received in relation to the advertising.
Both complainants considered the advertising to be misleading. They considered that the references to “green” were claims that the vans were environmentally friendly.
The complainants referenced the fact that the vans’ engines were internal combustion engines which they considered were not ‘green’ nor environmentally friendly. One complainant also said that the claim that the vans “do not cost the earth” was misleading because as they used fossil fuels, he considered they did ‘cost the earth’.
The advertisers said that engine technologies were constantly evolving and that Ford had an ongoing commitment to reducing emissions and increasing engine performance. This campaign cited this commitment and advertised that their latest range of vehicles were the greenest to date.
They said that the line “You can have any colour you want, as long as it’s Green” was a playful reference to the famous Henry Ford quote “You can have any colour you want as long as it’s black”, which alluded to the early mass production of vehicles. They said that there was no doubt that a Ford produced in 2018 was immeasurably ‘greener’ than one produced in 1909 (when this statement was made).
They added that being ‘green’ in this context also referred to trading in an old Ford transit van for a newer, more efficient one. While Ford transit vans were not, it was correct, hybrid vehicles, the engine technology continued to advance. For vehicles that were ten years or older the difference would be marked.
By way of example they said that one of their customers had won a 2017 green award and been nominated for a 2018 green award. While there were many reasons for their success that had nothing to do with Ford, the fact remained that they had won all these awards while operating with a fleet of Ford transit vans.
The advertisers also said that current Ford commercial vehicles complied with Stage 6 emissions as set out in the European Emissions Standards and, as such, were a significant improvement when set alongside the C02 Footprint of vehicles built prior to 2015.
In conclusion, they said that while all motoring activity would have some impact on the environment, they considered their efforts in this area justified the creative platform and the language used.
The advertisers were requested by the ASAI Executive to provide documentary evidence to demonstrate that the engine technology for the Ford transit vans continued to advance and that for vehicles that were 10 years or older, the difference was marked. No further response was received.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
The Complaints Committee noted the Code requirements in relation to environmental claims. They considered that the claim “you’ll always be buying green” was an unqualified environmental claim. While improvements in technology may reduce the environmental impact of internal combustion engines, the Committee were not aware of evidence that they caused no environmental damage.
The Committee considered that the claim “it doesn’t cost the earth” in the context of the previous references to the environment in the advertisement, to be an environmental claim that had not been substantiated.
The Committee considered that the advertising had breached Sections 4.1, 4.4, 4.9 and 15.2 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.